We've made it safely to Jerusalem via a nice restful first day and a half at the Dead Sea and a drive through the West Bank.
Going to the Dead Sea for day one was good planning as, as unique as the Dead Sea is, there's really not a whole lot to see or do other than verify that, yup, you can float on the water in the Dead Sea. But I don't mean that to sound belittling, as it is quite a nifty feeling. It's not just that you can float, but that you pretty much have to fight to not float - your legs just raise up to the top of the water if you don't work to keep them below you.
In a typical moment of grace, my legs floated up, flipping me over, an act from which I learned the very painful lesson that one does not want to get the salty water of the Dead Sea in one's throat, mouth and eyes. In my pain, however, I did have a small tinge of pleasure from the realisation that, barring any simultaneous manned deep-sea explorations, since the other swimmers were smart and graceful enough to keep theirs above water, at that very moment, my head was at a lower elevation than anyone else's on Earth. Not a great accomplishment, no, but there aren't many superlatives one collects in their lifetime where they can be reasonably certain they are first in a list of 6.5 billion people.
The drive through the West Bank was surprisingly normal, other than two Israeli checkpoints; at least until we were approaching Jerusalem, and then, next to the four-lane highway we were driving 70 on, we saw Palestinians riding on donkeys and living in tin and wood shacks. We've just been in Jerusalem about six hours, but it's ancient, gritty, alive and engaging. We're plonking down for a guided tour of the Old City and Bethlehem tomorrow, then satisfying personal wanderlust the next day. We seem to be staying in a Palestinian section of the city as it's mostly Muslim around us and we're 50 feet from a prayer tower - should make sunrise fun! At dinner, the hummus? Was amazing.
OK, bedtime in the Holy Land!
1) 100_0832 - Me looking Eurotrash at the Dead Sea; Jordan behind that
2) 100_0835 - Me with our hotel and the Vegasesque landscape
3) 100B0950 - Mary Keany afloat in the Dead Sea
4) DSC00032 - Entering Jerusalem
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