Saturday, February 23

Transjordan, Day Nine: The Dead Sea

Today we focussed on the Dead Sea and its surroundings. First up was Masada, a collection of Roman palaces situated atop a table top hill. The story behind the ruins goes something along the lines of rebel Jews committing mass suicide in order to escape some besieging Romans. Masada wasn't as amazing as we were expecting it to be. I'd even go as far as to say it wasn't unmissable.

We then took some time out on the shore of the Dead Sea. Now this was a bit of a contraversial move - some Muslims believe that the Dead Sea was the site of the prophet Lot's wicked (literally) hang outs of Sodom and Gomorrah and so a cursed land that was to be avoided at costs. Don't even ask about using Dead Sea beauty products. Anyway, it was fun watching people float and all.

Lunch was had in the 10,000 year old town of Jericho, allegedly the world's oldest. For some reason, of all the Biblical sites I had planned to see I had imagined Jericho to be the most fairytale like. It turned out to be just another West Bank town in the end, not that that was disappointing or anything. We visited the Monastery of Temptation, where Jesus was said to have fasted for forty days and nights as well as the Zacchaeus tree.

We also spent some time looking for and visiting the orphanage that was mentioned by our friend yesterday. We also spoke to the proprietors of the hostel for disabled kids next door, again chatting about the lives the Palestinians were leading. To be frank, I was amazed that some people had the gumption to start up these projects under such circumstances - I probably couldn't myself even in the relative comfort of the UK.

On the way home we visited Nabi Musa, one of the alleged burial places of the Prophet Moses. Of all the various graves and tombs we met, it only really struck me then how close to religious history we were. It really was a surreal revelation, if only because it had taken me over a week to realise it.

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