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Monday, July 24, 2017

Ancient Roman City of Jerash and Exploring Amman

Monday, July 24

For breakfast at the hotel today I had a traditional Jordanian breakfast of fava beans and olive oil and tahini. It was something I would never think of making for breakfast as an American, but it was filling and healthy. 

The fava beans were in he big vat and then the toppings (sumac also) around it. 

We visited the Blue Mosque, which provides visitors with abayas, modest clothing to put over you. I came prepared. 

It is a beautiful mosque, if not as spectacular as the ones I visited in Turkey. It is still in the Ottoman style with the dome and is not painted but done with small blue mosaic tiles. 

The direction of Mecca is pointed out by this area. Muslims face that direction when praying. In our hotel room, this sticker points out the direction to pray. 

On to Jerash, which is also the second largest ancient Roman city after Rome and Ephesus. 

At the temple of Artemis, the daughter of Zeus. 

Ate a splendid Jordanian lunch in Jerash together. 

Went to the Citadel site back in Amman, which also is Roman and Umayyad ruins. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Jordan Border Crossing and Intro to Amman

Sunday, July 23

Interesting day and drive. Beautiful desert mountains. I do feel like I'm in a different world. 

Israel's Mediterranean Coastal Cities

Saturday, July 22

We spent our last full day in Israel traveling from the kibbutz over to the northwest  and drove south along the Mediterranean from Haifa to Jaffa/Tel Aviv. I enjoyed the beautiful sea, the breeze and beauty. 

We only briefly stopped in Haifa to view the Ba Hai Gardens  that have a building with the tomb of their founder. The Ba Hai are a faith that embrace all world religions and seek to promote tolerance and love. We have a small community of these followers in Star Valley. 

My new friend Anika from London has family that are Ba Hai. I love making new friends on my travels, and Anika is a kind, open-minded and intelligent person who also loves to try new food adventures. I'm sad that she won't be continuing on the Jordanian portion of our tour. 

We continued on to the ancient port city of Caesarea, which was named after Caesar Augustus and built by Herod the Great. Many remains are left from Roman, then Muslim and Crusader times. We viewed a short movie and then walked around the area. 

Arrived in Jaffa and had lunch. Jaffa is an ancient port city as well, and Tel Aviv was built just north of it. We spent the night in Tel Aviv at an old cinema. 

Will post more....

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sea of Galilee, Nazareth and Capernaum

Friday July 21

Christian sites were he agenda today, so personally I was really looking forward to seeing these places. They did not disappoint. 

On a side note, back in Jerusalem there is turmoil. It is a good thing we saw the Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock area, as it could be shut down for awhile. Will post more later. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Masada Site and Dead Sea Bathing

How many hots for this day! Toasty out here but incredible. Luckily, I'm now sitting on a lovely balcony at a kibbutz hotel enjoying some r and r before dinner. 

Our morning began with a drive to the Masada site, made famous for the story of the last hold out of Jews rebelling against the Romans after the destruction of the second temple in 70 CE. The tradition holds that they committed suicide rather than surrender, though I tend to agree with scholars today that the Romans killed them first. 

On top of Masada at the Roman palace. 

The view from the tram at the top. 


The ramp the Romans built to breach the fortress. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Land of Divisions

Wednesday, July 19

With complete honesty, parts of today really tried me emotionally and intellectually. We rode our shuttle to the West Bank today and were further immersed in the dual narratives of this land, along with experiencing a small glimpse of the reality. My expectation was of danger, even though I have long empathized with the Palestinians. I still am not professing to suddenly have answers or think I understand it, but today was eye opening and admittedly sad. 

To see a walled off city where people are living without rights in a "democratic" country was a struggle to witness. While the Israeli narrative of living under intifada is also one to listen to, in my heart, I do not feel that the wall and what is happening is the answer. It is clear that the 38% population being Palestinians living in Jerusalem gives them the same  percent of the resources. Schools are worse, housing and busing are worse, etc. 

Below are some photos of the day, which again I must post and explain later. Some need no explanation. 

Stories like the one above were posted all along the wall. Notice that all of the graffiti is In English. That is because the Palestinians are reaching out to the international community. 

We went to a museum and art gallery designed by the graffiti artist Banskty. You can interpret the art and decor for yourself. It is all meant to make a statement. 

We then went to a refugee camp. While you might expect to see tents, thousands have been refugees here for three generations now and have permanent structures. This is it normal for refugees. Many still insist on the right of return to their pre 1948 homes, something that simply will not happen under the state of Israel. 

On a lighter note, we took a cooking class and had lunch from and with a local Palestinian family. We had maklooba, a famous dish of the region, a version of what I had the first night.