People like to have some extra free time to absorb the Holy City of Jerusalem or take other adventures—or to catch up on sleep. So we always add a “free day” at the end of the Holy Land pilgrimage. But for those who want to see more sites and have planned adventures, we offer an option trip to Qumran where they found the Dead Sea Scrolls and then to Masada where the Jews made their last stand against Rome in 72 AD. It is along the Dead Sea deep in the arid Judean Wilderness.
It is a stunning site and present day pilgrims have the great advantage of a cable car to take them up and down. Next we went to Jericho. Jericho is an important biblical city which Joshua conquered by marching around the city blowing trumpets. Jesus visited Jericho many times and we saw the Sycamore Tree of Zacchaeus (Lk 19:4) and the Mount of Temptation where Satan took Jesus to show him the kingdoms of the world (Mt 4). It is also on the road to Jericho where the parable of the Good Samaritan took place.Jericho is in the Palestinian West Bank and we have to cross the checkpoint (like at Bethlehem) to get in and out. Jericho is the oldest inhabited city in the world AND the lowest city in the world. It is about 1,400 feet below sea level. The lunch in Jericho is a treat. The restaurant is also a shop and has one of the largest selections of Dead Sea products. Those who will not go to Egypt with us tomorrow had a chance to ride a camel.
After lunch we took a short tour of the city, mainly to see the Sycamore Tree associated with the short man Zacchaeus mentioned in Luke 19:1-10.After lunch we did what everyone was waiting for – swimming, or should I say, bobbing and floating in the Dead Sea. The temperature was over 100 degrees and every one that joined the trip (a little over ½ of the pilgrims) had a great time floating in the water with their heads, arms and feet sticking up in the air as they each bobbed in the water, unable to sink. A great time was had by all.
We arrived back in time to give them an hour or two free before Mass. Only about eight pilgrims stayed back, including Fr. Bernie and Fr. Steve since I had taken them on this trip a year and a half ago, so they already saw these places. The few who stayed back visited the Old City, prayed at the Holy Sepulchre, etc.
We celebrated Mass at the Notre Dame Center, all the religious items and gifts were blessed by the priests. We all hit the sack. About eight people fly home tomorrow. The rest, including Janet and I, Dee McNosky our escort and the two good Fathers will board our bus at 7:30 AM to head for Egypt.
I hope to have internet access from Egypt, but in Egypt you just can’t count on such things—VERY different from modern Israel. Even if I am unable to upload videos, I will still try to give a short report so you can know how our trip to Egypt is going. Pray for us and we will pray for all those who read this blog.