Cowboy bus driver in the desert

This was our driver who took us from Jerusalem to Eilat, a fairly punishing 311Km trip all the way down the Negev desert to the very south point of the country.   And I do mean a ‘point’ as that’s exactly the bottom shame of Israel’s Red Sea city tightly between Egypt and Jordan.

There is something a little unconventional about this driver’s uniform.

Stopping at a petrol station for a bathroom stop, (4 and 3/4 hours, no toilet on the bus)  made me think we were in the Nevada desert rather in the holy land.

Actually judging by his accent, this gent was a regular Sabra Israeli, ie: not an immigrant from anywhere else.  I think he likes his job as a cowboy driver across the desert.

To be honest, as we alotted seating, I was on the very back seat in the middle which is not so good for seeing scenery, it was full so there was no chance of moving later.

Actually this man reminds me of another driver, this time of a well known black GMC van.

Mr T became a Christian back before the A-Team, there is a good article here.

Athough not in the newest A-Team movie, he hasn’t aged that much, and as he is a leadership position in his current church, I think it would be good if he could lead Christian groups to Israel and hire the above chap as the tour bus driver!

I can just picture this; “I pity the fool, who follows BDS!!”  if you want to obey God, you need to pray and support Israel Sucka!!!

Small earthquake felt in Jerusalem

During friday whilst in bed before getting up, as my alarm is set to go off at 6.15am I felt something I thought might of been a small earthquake, in fact I think I heard some creaks from furniture in my house that moved slightly.

Just seen this today, from a volcanoes group page on Facebook I get alerts from as I got a little bit interested in Geology as a child and in 2005 I went to Iceland and saw the volcanoes there.

Turns it was an earthquake that happened after all, actually in the Dead Sea area, but could be felt here in Jerusalem.   Doesn’t seem to be any damage anywhere but we are on a fault here.


Motorcycle club rides solidarity with Israel

I went over to the Kotel (Western Wall) after meeting up with some friends to practice Hebrew in a coffee shop and before heading to church on Sunday afternoon.

When going down some steps about to enter through a security gate through the south-west corner of the Kotel Plaza, I got a glimpse of this:-

Thats a lot of luxury model motorcycles mostly Harley Davidsons and Honda Goldwings, gleaming with chrome, leather and special paint jobs.

These men were doing a private prayer by the fence in front of the wall.   I couldn’t resist chatting to them, turns out a few of them were Israeli bikers but most were on holiday from the US, some were Jews and most were Christians, but all of them had come to show support for Israel and the Jewish people and were here on a road trip and had their precious bikes shipped over here.

A lot of them had these special printed leather jackets for the event, and patches, tattoos as well as beards in size rivalling the Orthodox Jews there.

This was a welcome change to see folk in their closeknit motorcycle club showing support for Israel as opposed to daft protesters in silly million dollar yachts off the coast of Gaza, who had gone from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and were riding to the Dead Sea the next day which sounds great fun considering the breathtaking views of the desert when you head down there.

This was a great surprise to see at the Kotel, and it also made today’s Jerusalem Post too.  I know the Israeli government have been trying to branch out to niche tourism, ie: health conscious people going the the Dead Sea, so maybe they could market the holy land to more bikers too.    A ride all the way down the Negev desert with a beer waiting on a beach side bar on the Red Sea resort of Eilat sounds good to me!   For the time being I have to make do with my push bike which I ride over about four different sets of hills 6km every day to work!



Dead Sea Scrolls go online

Read something quite exciting on the BBC news today,  its rare they say anything positive about this part of the world,

Israel’s antiquities authority and are putting the Dead Sea Scrolls online.

The text in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.   I am guessing Google will include their excellent automatic translation tools in as well.

You can also see the Dead Sea Scrolls museum in Qumran by the Dead Sea.

Dead Sea Odyssey 422 metres below sea level – 4: Ein Gedi springs

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Ein Gedi is an interesting phenomenon, its a little oasis just on the other side of main road from the Dead Sea.

Its odd that a body of water completely sterile of life has a stunningly attractive beauty spot a few hundred metres away.  Here at Ein Gedi you walk along twisty paths around large boulders and streams, see unusual animals not seen in Europe, and follow your way around streams that twist around rocks and paths up to a big waterfall.  Ein Gedi served as a water source during biblical times.  Joshua 15 : 62 and 1 Samuel 24 : 1-2 feature this place.  The Bible  records that 3,000 years ago hid from King Saul at Ein Gedi. When David surprised the King and spared his life after finding him unarmed, Saul said David would succeed him on the throne.

Not far from Ein Gedi, is Qumran one of the most significant archaeological sites here in Israel as the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

There are more unusual animals, in this case its these little critters, Rock Badgers,  officially called Hyrax, large rodents that seems to dwell around mountainous places with sources of water.

When I came here before in 2006, some people on the tour chose to get baptised here.  Often the river Jordan is the main choice for that amongst Christian pilgrims here, but Ein Gedi is just as good. 🙂

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Dead Sea Odyssey 422 metres below sea level – 3: Masada secrets

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Back to up again on Masada, there’s quite a few buildings that are interesting, for one thing there are an interesting plumbing system that brings water through some clever channels that run around the side of the mountain.

Marcel made friends with a bird that fed from his hand.  These little black birds look like starlings but have orange tips on their wings and have a fondness for biscuits.

Along the top of Masada there are many buildings for the community that lived up here, complete with synagogue and dwellings.

Whats this strange cave room down here?

Not sure what it was, but something moved in the corner of my eye, that made Magnus nervous:

It was this cute quite large mouse.  Not sure exactly what sort of rodent it is.

You can see for a long long way from here.  Of course next door neighbour country Kingdom of Jordan shares the Dead Sea and some of the thriving industry from cosmetics that come from this unique mineral rich lake.

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Dead Sea Odyssey 422 metres below sea level – 2: The lowest camp site on earth…

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In my characteristically quirky random way of doing things, I didn’t mention what we did before going to Masada.

Marcel, Magnus and myself stocked up with food and supplies at a Talpiyot supermarket for camping expedition in Marcel’s work’s Fiat Doblo van.

The camp site we stayed at was pretty good in terms of location.   The toilets were nasty to say the least, the camp site itself was free but the toilets required some coins put into a turnstile gate, but this was not working, probably as no one was taking care of any cleaning or maintenance.

When choosing a place to put our tent, some of the other people were a bit noisy, there were several cars playing Arab music rather loud, we had to get to sleep early as we planned to get up at 3am (!) to walk up Masada to see the sun rise over the Dead Sea.

So we pitched the tent closeish to the beach.  This just required a scrape around of any big stones to get the ground as flat as possible for sleeping on.

The tent is borrowed of Marcel’s Swiss work colleague, it took us three attempts to put it up as its quite unusual in design and took several goes at trying to work out if the sticks go on the inside or outside…

Another problem we hit was the ground was too hard to get the pegs in.  After bashing them with a big rock and bending them in the process, a better idea was just to tie the guy ropes to some bottles of water.  It was quite windy, so keeping the tent upright was best achieved with at least two of us in the tent at once. 🙂

Something hit me when it got dark…  This is the lowest place on earth, this is the lowest camp site on earth, AND, our tent is lower than everyone else’s.   Therefore we spent the night in the lowest tent in THE WHOLE WORLD!!!!  YEAH!!!!

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Dead Sea Odyssey 422 metres below sea level – 1: The snake trail at Massada

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My friend Magnus from Sweden who I work with and Marcel from the Netherlands who works for another Christian organisation in Jerusalem decided to spend a weekend on a trip, as Magnus was close to the end of his volunteer time in Israel.

Various different ideas were discussed on a biblical place to go, maybe Jericho (although didn’t manage to fully research safety and security in this place) or more of the Galilee. In the end we decided to check out the Dead Sea. I have been there twice before but not recently, but where as before I went up in a cable car, this time this would be a gruelling climb up the ‘snake trail’ at 3am, a zigzag path that goes right up to the top of the Masada fortress where a Jewish community once lived before tragically committing suicide after being hopelessly surrounded by the Roman army.  More information on Masada here.

After the shock of getting up at 3am to get there to see the sun rise and not have the intense midday heat when hiking up the path, this was definitely worth it I think 🙂

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