January 19th, 2016

First day of school

Gas station camels?

(Credit to Mom, she's funnier)

Part1: Gas Station Camels
Some enterprising gas station owners in the West Bank region tether camels in the parking lots, as the animals formerly known as Ships of the Desert are now demoted to photo ops. For the equivalent of $5, you can mount one of these wretched flea-ridden creatures and have the attendant take your picture. The camels reminded me of very large stray cats, albeit adorned with colorful blankets and bells.

Part 2: Bedouins Make the Best Car Thieves
If you live near any Bedouins, your car insurance has a Bedouin surcharge. I have no idea what to do with this information, other than not live near any Bedouins.

Part 3: What We Saw Today
Capernaum, believed to be the site of St. Peter's house, and a gorgeous ancient synagogue. Both were fascinating, and the layers were easily seen from inside the structure. Then came Tabgha, site of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Then Beth Shean, and Beth Alpha (brand new kibbutz members hit the mother load in 1929 when they uncovered a stunning mosaic floor. It's now part of the national park system, so the accompanying movie has first class production values, including archival footage. Very cool.)

Then...a roadside hole in the wall lunch stop (yes, all of this was before lunch) with a lovely clean bathroom. The guides always know where to find the best bathrooms, something we all appreciate.

And then a two and a half hour ride through the Jordan River Valley, impressive for its lush row upon row of date palms, bananas, and herbs. The bunches of bananas are encased in blue plastic bags so they all ripen at once. Peer pressure, I assume. Israel sends fresh herbs to Europe every day and judging from the fields, those Frenchies and Spaniards like their parsley, coriander, and basil. The Israelis planted all of this, and it is a marvel. We then passed into the desert and at some point I forgot, could clearly see Jordan across the highway. The desert is rocky, not sandy.

The hotel welcomed us with a plate of wonderful fruit (including a persimmon, kiwi, orange, one strawberry, and banana), chocolate, free internet, a full coffee/tea service, flat screen tv, fridge, huge bathroom with two sinks, a separate tub and shower...and we're just a few blocks from the Old City. Tomorrow will likely be Masada and the Dead Sea, pending weather, so stay tuned.