I know it has been a couple of days since my last email. The end of my time in Israel was very relaxing and interesting. A lot has happened, so I’ll try to keep this short. Here are the highlights…
Wednesday, October 4
* Visited the Chocolate factory at the Kibbutz. I didn’t actually try any of the chocolate, but bought a few boxes as gifts, assuming its the best ever.
* Baptism (wrote about this in my last email)
* Dinner at a really nice restaurant that also has an observation tower overlooking the south end of the Sea of Galilea. Amazing views and a really fancy restaurant. I felt way underdressed, although many of the other patrons were not dressed much better than I was.
Thursday, October 5
* Check out of the Kibbutz Hotel. My stay at the Kibbutz was really calming. I slowed down my pace quite a bit and enjoyed the Israeli countryside.
* Wandered to Meggido: This archeological site is considered one of the most important because of its location. It is at the crossroads of major trade routes, has distinct military advantages, and is also surrounded by fertile soil that is excellent for farming. This is such an important location that archeologists have found at least 20 distinct layers of ruins representing every time this location was taken over. There are 4 different versions of a temple, all stacked one on top of another. This could also be the location of the final battle of good verses evil. It is thought that “Armageddon” is a misrepresentation of the Hebrew phrase “Har-Megiddo” which means Mount Megiddo. I don’t have the knowledge to speak to this more, but it is certainly interesting.
* Wandered to Caesarea: This was, in the past, a very impressive Roman port city built by Herod and designed to emulate the grandure of Rome. At its peak, it had a large deep water port, temples, pools, and Herod’s palace. It was built at Caeserea instead of Joppa (the big port at the time) because Joppa was considered very Jewish, and Herod wanted to create a distinctly Roman city. This is a wonderful national park because, in addition to the ruins, there is a promenade of nice restaurants and stores and a large park, making this a great location to bring the family for a day of fun that can include beach time.
* Arrived in Tel Aviv to my last Israeli hotel for one night. Very nice and simple hotel. Did the job just fine!
Friday, October 6
* Checked out of the hotel, but my flight wasn’t until 7pm, so I had all day to wander still.
* Wandered to Ashkelon: This port city was never occupied by Jews, but it was the home of the Philistines during biblical times. It’s just a nice park to walk around and see some of the ruins located there and maybe get some more beach time. It is a very popular place for Israelis to go camping in.
* Filled the rental car with Gas: I mention this because if there was a challenge on this trip, I would have to say it is getting gas. The gas pumps all work a little differently, they are all in Hebrew, and usually the clerk in the minimart doesn’t speak English. Somehow I managed to get gas in the car. Once by sheer luck, another because of the Russian bus driver that spoke English, and then the last time the clerk spoke English. The pumps ask you for your vehicle license plate number, though the clerk in the store won’t. Google Translate did a marginal job translating – so it was difficult to discern what the pump was asking me to do. And some gas stations want to know your ‘limit’ which means you tell them how many liters do you want to buy max or how many sheckles worth of gas. I told her I needed 50 liters, and had a precharge on my car for that amount (about 350 sheckles) and then when I filled up, it was only 25 liters, so that was the final charge.
* Went to the airport early because there wasn’t anything nearby left to visit, and ran into my friend Mark, whom I met last week in Jerusalem. He’s the gentleman that works for American Airlines and wears a cowboy hat. We spent a couple of hours chatting over pizza and coffee.
* Boarded my very short flight in a 787 from Tel Aviv to Amman – 45 minutes, altitude of 9000 ft.
* Got my very rough rental car. At night it looks okay but under the bright light of day, it is covered in dings and scratches all over. It sounds like it needs new breaks and makes embarrassing noises when you accelerate. We did a very thorough inspection before i left the airport
* I need to stop arriving at night – the drive to the hotel was nerve racking – I felt like I was on a race track and it was really dark, so generally hard to see.
* My first hotel is on the Jordan side of the dead sea. This area feels very rural and undeveloped, but there are several buildings under construction, so maybe Jordan is expecting more tourism. My hotel is fine, though. It seems to be under renovation.
Saturday, Oct 7
* I ordered breakfast from the hotel which I just finished – it was an omlet and 2 pita bread with hummus, tomatos, olives, cheeses, and apricot jam. Their version of jam is more like honey with apricot flavor. It was a good breakfast to start the day and cost 4 dinar, which is about $6.
* Russian Times reported this morning at around 7am local time, rockets were launched from Gaza into Ashkelon and Tel Aviv. One person was killed. Don’t worry, I’m still alive and far away from the action now, but maybe pray for the affected people and for the nations to stop attacking.
Hoping for a better internet connection!