Turned out that we couldn’t entirely escape the weather. The first week of the trip was rainy and cold. They said there was a little snow although it didn’t stick around, but compared to what we’d left, we were unimpressed. However today it caught up with us: the road was washed out, so we never made it to Masada. It was okay, though.
We began at Qumran, the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947, and within minutes of our arrival I was planning my next novel. Suffice it to say that I listened to the stories of the sect who wrote the scrolls through the lens of a psychological anthropologist, answering for myself the question, “Who would want to live like this?” Now there’s a story puttering around in my brain, yet another one clamoring to get out onto paper. Some day.
The archaeological site:
Next we had a study session in a bombed out open air restaurant, and a guy walked in with a camel:
Finally, instead of Masada, we went to Qaser El-Yahud, a baptismal site on the Jordan river right across from Jericho. It’s the site where Joshua led the Jews into the Promised Land after 40 years of not asking directions, and it’s also where John the Baptist did his thing. So it’s an important site for several different religions, for different reasons.
Contrary to all the old spirituals, the river Jordan is muddy and brown. If it weren’t for the historical and religious significance of the site, you might even call it disgusting:
Then again, the amenities were nice enough, and we even caught sight of a group who’d come for their own religious experience: