The days are numbered and we’re getting close to the end of the trip. It seems such a long and short time to be in a country with so much to offer the spirit of the explorer.
From the Feynan Ecolodge we were driven back out to the reception gate by another of the Bedouin drivers hired by the lodge. He was weather worn, wearing the traditional grey robe, and the red and white head scarf. The truck was old but well kept and bumped us back to our driver in good stead. The world gets smaller and more connected as we travel and continue to explore and learn about others that share this extraordinary planet with us. And now onward towards the Dead Sea. We will have two days at the Dead Sea and then we will start the reverse journey back to the States and our comfortable little row home – the New Old House. We have learned over our years of coming and going that if you can allow yourself a full day of rest in a nice hotel before returning it will go along way in recovering once you do get back to your home. Indulging in Dead Sea soaks and mud baths, lounging by one of many pools, and just resting goes a long way in restoring the body, but also is a nice time for going over the favourite bits of the trip and talking over the adventure as a whole.
On the way to our hotel we had a stop off at Lot’s Cave. Another of those Old Testament/Pentateuch/Torah stories from early days in Sunday School visits in the area. Lot, in case you never made it to Sunday School as a child, was a man of God who was chosen to survive the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. His story is a rather disturbing one as he survives and other things happen. But the part that we focus on is he and his family (wife and daughters) are told to leave and NOT look back as the cities are being destroyed. Lot’s wife turns back and is turned into a pillar of salt. In the 5th/6th century CE a cave was discovered and deemed to be the cave lived in by Lot and his daughters after fleeing the devastation of their home. A monastery was build at the entrance and the ruins are there to look at. It’s a rather small space, but there’s a museum associated with the cave which is definitely worth a look into.
There are interesting objects of daily life that are on display and a mosaic that was on the floor of the monastery, the area nearest the cave entrance, that they are puzzling back together. One of the docents came up to me to find out if I wanted to see the body that had been recently unearthed. I was honoured. I left AEB behind who gets “weirded out” as she says at the sight of bones, especially human. The lab had two large rooms and each had areas dedicated to piecing together the massive jigsaw puzzle of the mosaic flooring they had recovered from the monastery. The body was against a far wall on a counter top and partly covered. It was in bad shape. Apparently when it was being removed by the archeological team it began to crumble, which is not uncommon when trying to move very delicate remains. But it was beautiful. It was a little sad, too, as there was a child laid with her. Her face had been covered in a woven mask of sorts and you could make out the colour of her hair and the clothing in which she and her child her laid to rest. What an honour and privilege to get a peek behind the scenes into the working lab.
From here we drove out to the Baptismal site of Jesus. Before we go there we stopped to spot poor Lot’s wife up on a cliff still standing there after all these years.
At the Baptismal site AEB decided that she’d had enough of the heat, enough of the driving – enough. So, the profound spiritual experience that might have happened alongside the other 20 or so tourists on the bus ride to the walk out to the site and the Jordan river was a bit squelched. It didn’t help that I had a relapse of being over heated. I made it to the site, but not the Jordan. The tour guide was really lovely about taking care of me. We got a ride to the souvenir shop to wait in the a/c before the van met us and took us back to the main gate. I will say that our girl was really good about trying to change her honour when I started feeling bad. The souvenir shop helped district her ill-humour as well.
The site may or may not be THE actual site, but it is a site that archeologists have agreed that makes the most sense for John the Baptiser to have been doing his ministry. So, even if Jesus didn’t get baptised right there all those many years ago the history of the place is still something to wonder at.
From here we made out way to the hotel along the Dead Sea to stop and relax for the next day before repacking our bags to head home.