We had an early start, rising before sunup. After a hearty breakfast, we boarded the bus and made our way to the Jordanian border.
While the anticipation for entering Jordan was a little stressful, we thought little of re-entering Israel. Wrong!
After passing through at least five checkpoints, we were dropped off for the final exchange into Israel across the Allenby Bridge. The scene was chaotic. We were queued by the Jordanians into a sorta-line, while only one officer checked papers. Then we passed through an Israeli x-ray scanner and baggage checker where we witnessed an Israeli border officer and a Jordanian baggage man/border agent get into an ugly shouting match.
We loved Jordan, but we’re glad to leave that border experience behind us and re-enter Israel.
Gus our guide and Moses our bus driver met us warmly, and we quickly whisked off into the West bank. Run by the Palestinian Authority, the West bank is often in the news. After a good lunch, we stopped at Zaccheus’s tree and several other places before spending some time in Old Jericho. It was hot. But we toured the excavation site of Biblical and pre-Biblical Jericho, which just celebrated its 10,000th birthday. 10,000 years of human habitation.
People lived there because of the spring. Elisha’s Spring is still providing water to the people of the West bank. And we were able to see the water emerge from below, in a spot where countless others have come for water for millennia.
As we drove from Jericho to Jerusalem, I could hear the Psalms of ascent in my mind. Psalms that Jewish pilgrims would sing as they made their way to the Temple. We entered into a long tunnel, and emerged into the Holy City.
It’s a beautiful complicated city. Well armed soldiers mix with veiled Muslim women, mix with Hasidic Jews, mix with pilgrims from all over the world. The air is filled with Hebrew and Arabic and language from a hundred nations.
We check into our hotel, and the old city wall is 100 yards from my hotel room window. Inside – Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western wall, the Temple Mount, and more. Walking distance.