Walked up the hill to where our street ended at the Haas Promonade to meet Ben at 9AM. The sun was already hot but there was a crisp, cool breeze blowing from the Mountains of Moab in Jordan to the east. The flowersthat hang from the wall next to the sidewalk are so beautiful (you don’t see blue flowers very often); but for some reason that no one can explain to me, almost none of the flowers in Israel has a scent. You will remember that the Haas Promonade is the hill where Abraham first saw Mount Moriah (later to become the City of David, and Jerusalem).
Ben picked me up and we took a vote as to which way we wanted to drive north. All of us wanted to drive east to the Dead Sea and then go north along the Jordan River Valley. The original reason for the drive was to see damage caused by the war, but that soon fell by the wayside and our trip became a reason to get out of the city of Jerusalem. The day was hazy across the Jordan Valley.
We stopped at a roadside gas station to get drinks and we met a group of about 200 soldiers. We didn’t know where they were going, but they all looked to be about 18-19 years old, which most of them are. Incidentally, some of you have asked me to say something about the war from this side. I have hesitated to do so for several reasons: First, I’m not sure the war is really over; second, some of the information that has come to me is not what you hear on the international news and I believe some of it might even be confidential (or, perhaps, even secret); and third I’m not sure how many of you are all that interested.
When you drive north along the River Valley, you drive very close to the electric security fence. The actual border is the middle of the Jordan River and there is about a mile between the River and the fence. This distance is referred to as ‘no man’s land’ and, as you can imagine, is very fertile ground for growing crops. On each side of the River, farmers grow some great crops, but they are also farming between each country’s security fence. Fortunately, Jordan and Israel have an uneasy peace right now. It has rarely been so…
Ben decided he wanted to get off the main road and drive east to the River so he could show us a bridge he remembered seeing several years ago. He said the bridge crossed the River into Jordan. To say this idea made our female companion very nervous is a huge understatement. Ben found a place to turn off the road and we began wandering along a dirt road getting us closer and closer to the Jordan River and to Jordan, itself.
Eventually we arrived at an old army outpost which has been turned into a place where students are taken to study the history of the various wars with Jordan. A group of students were being shown around by a guide. Ben drove around the group and took a dirt road that had old railroad tracks embedded into it. The lady wanted him to turn around and return to the main road.
Down and down we drove along a road that obviously had not been used by anyone in a very long time. I was in the right passenger seat and could have opened the window and touched the electric border fence. I took this picture through the fence and you can see two abandoned Jordanian outlook towers from some war that is now only a memory. Then we came around a bend and there, on the hill above us, was a Jordanian lookout tower that was not abandoned, complete with the flag of Jordan waving high up for everyone to see. Our lady was now so nervous she was making me nervous. But, Ben just knew there was a bridge up ahead, somewhere.
We finally came to a very old bridge, and, sure enough, it crossed the Jordan where the River flows under the fence and across the border. I wasn’t sure the bridge would support our weight, but Ben crossed it, anyway.
We went up a small hill and over a rise, and suddenly we were in the middle of a park! Everything was green and beautiful, so Ben stopped to see what park it was. Some of you know that, whenever there is a murder of innocent Israelis, the people build a park on the site as a memorial. This turned out to be such a place. Apparently, a few years ago, a girl’s school was having an outing next to the border with Jordan, and a Jordanian soldier went crazy and began shooting at the girls. Here are pictures of the youngsters he killed. Their bodies are buried in the park and their graves are marked by mounds bearing their names written in flowers.
We finally found the main road again. By this time, we had arrived at the Sea of Galilee and Ben decided to take us to his favorite restaurant, the Ein Gev Fish Restaurant. Here is a picture of Ben and me next to the boat on the restaurant’s lawn. Some of you reading this blog will know exactly where this place is. Ben loves St. Peter’s fish. The lady and I both ordered omelets. Ben looked at us horrified, “You mean I brought you to the world’s finest fish restaurant and you order EGGS!” He wasn’t very happy; but, I don’t care much for fish, so I ordered eggs. However, after taking a bite of his grilled fillet, I realized that I should have ordered the fish. He made mention of my egg order several times the rest of our trip.
Drove around the Sea of Galilee, past most of the areas of Jesus’ life and ministry: Bethsaida (home of all the disciples who were fishermen); Magdala (home of Mary Magdalene); the Hill of Beatitudes; etc. It was a very hazy day or I would have taken more pictures for you.
We decided to drive to the most northern town of any size and then return home. Our female friend wanted to visit a place which she had been only once before (years ago): a home that makes wind chimes. Somehow we found it and I almost bought a set of chimes for Blake since they were tuned to the Japanese scale and had a wonderful sound. Too expensive.
Speaking of Blake: I have only worn my tennis shoes for about 4 hours since coming here. I LOVE my Chacos! And, I wish I had a picture of me in my Tilly hat. It is perfect!
Returned to Jerusalem about 8PM and crashed…