Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Peacocks, cable cars, mines and fresh orange juice

On the Friday we took a trip out of the city to visit Jericho in the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. We hadn't devoted a day to Jericho before, but it is a place with a long history - possibly the longest continuous habitation of anywhere on earth!  There are many excavations in the area around the city, which is one of the main towns in the famous West Bank are of the Palestinian Territory. 
We headed to the Franciscan church in the town (left), where we were told that a bevy of bishops had arrived whom the Franciscans felt should have the church for Mass. We are banished to the garden, which turned out to be a blessing, as it was a lovely day, we were under an awning and a proud peacock strutted his way behind me through the celebration. In the Gospel, Jesus told us that he was and is the Way, the Truth and the Life. If we are to listen to the voice of the Lord, well, then, we must also act on it, making his Way, Truth and Life truly our own.
In 2000 a cable car was built to reach the Mount of Temptations which overlooks the town (above). We all went up in groups of six, swaying high above the dry land. The Monastery on the mountain was shut, but we enjoyed a relaxing interlude and cold drink gazing out over the huge vista.
Back on terra firma we headed for an open air restaurant for lunch and then drove out of the town in blistering heat to the site of the Baptism, south towards the Dead Sea. The West Bank side has only been reopened to visitors recently after being mined. It was good to visit this after several visits to the "imaginary" site way up by the Sea of Galilee, which is very attractive, but nowhere near where the event happened.  We renewed our baptismal promised, and I signed each on the forehead with Jordan water and poured some over their hands. A very hot stroll back in the 90sF to the coach and we were off to the Dead Sea.
I'm no big fan of the DS. I don't like the feel of it, and while it's good to have the experience of floating in it, on this occasion I opted for a gorgeous freshly-squeezed-in-front-of-you orange drink or two. Beautiful. And so back to the city for our last evening in Jerusalem, where the hotel put on its weekly Sultan's Banquet, where David excelled as sultan, Tania starred as his, er,.sultana, and Norbert stunned us all by his, um, exotic dancing (no pics alas!).

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