Saturday, September 13, 2008

From Bethlehem

This has been an eventful pilgrimage, with many surprises, beginning with lost luggage. When Gale and I arrived with our group in Amman, Jordan, at 1 am, our bags and one other person's bags were nowhere to be found! Such is the nature of pilgrimage--meeting the unexpected, being flexible. For three days we had no luggage, washing out our clothes and wearing them every day. That will teach me to leave home without a change of clothes in my carry-on.

Next, we spent two nights in a tent camp in the desert at Wadi Rum, where Lawrence of Arabia rode with the Arab fighters. These were not the genteel tents I had expected - no light, no electricity, bathrooms at the other end of the camp - actually having no luggage was a benefit here and our clothes dried out quickly in the desert! We ate in traditional goat-hair Bedouin tents, hosted by the Bedouin families who live in the area.

The desert there is beautiful - red, orange, purple hues of the rocks, seen at dawn and sunset in different light. Hiking to the top of the nearby rock to watch the sunrise and the camels grazing below. Meeting the Bedouin dog who loved having his ears scratched just like his American cousins. Watching the young men doing their traditional Bedouin dances in the evenings around the fire after dinner -- not hard to see why the women put up with the flies, the goat-hair tents, the long black dresses and head coverings for these good-looking young men!

We've seen lots of rocks in the desert, on the mountains, in the valleys, in the fields, the Roman ruins and the rock-carved tombs and temples of Petra.

Then to the Galilee - beautiful calm waters - hot and humid, but easy to see why Jesus came here to relax and get away from the crowds. Very peaceful and quiet. The waters of the Sea of Galilee are great for swimming, just the right temperature, fish nibbling on your feet, refreshing after a long day of seeing churches, springs and more ruins. We visited the Mount of the Beattitudes, Capernaeum, the springs from which the Jordan River flows, Cana, Nazareth, and the Israeli towns replacing the Arab villages on the Golan Heights.

Today we waded in the Mediterranean at Caesarea Maritima, saw the Hippodrome and the Amphitheater, ate a Druze meal under the olive trees on Mt. Carmel and checked into our hotel in Bethlehem. Now for some sleep, something we travelers are not getting enough of.

I haven't had time to write - too much stimulation and not enough time to sit and relax. That will come later.....

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