We started out our last day by going to Masada. Which was so cool. If you don't know the story of Masada (I only knew bits and pieces of it before we went there), basically it was an almost impregnable and entirely self-sustaining palace of the paranoid Herod the Great that was taken over by a group of Jewish rebels in 66 A.D. (when the Romans were destroying Jerusalem). The Romans lay siege to it (but it took an awfully long time to be able to break down the fortress walls since it's on a high mesa top), but before they could capture the rebels, the Jews at Masada committed mass suicide so they wouldn't be enslaved by the Romans. Anyway. It's a fascinating, tragic story and it's an incredible site to visit.
[Going up the mountain on the tram. There was no way we were hiking that in 100+ degree heat]
[That is a desert]
[You can still see the siege ramp the Romans built to get their battering ram up to the fortress gates]
After Masada, we went to the Dead Sea. Because when you get a chance to go to the lowest point in the world (and to float in it!), you definitely take that chance.
[Floating in the Dead Sea!]
[You also cover yourself with mud.]
[So much exfoliation.]
We also went to the Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized (not at this exact particular spot, per se. But He was baptized in the Jordan River).
[Jordan River. The barrier is the country of Jordan.]
Oh! Also, we went to Jericho. And drank its famous orange juice. And I rode a camel.
It's honestly amazing how much we were able to do during the week we were in the Holy Land. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to go. Truly, gratitude is the first word that comes to mind when I think of this trip--grateful for the things I learned, the people I met, the places I saw, and the things I felt. And I hope I get a chance to pay it forward someday, and to strengthen, inspire, and lift others from the things I learned.
As one of our travel companions said at the Garden of Gethsemane, "It just makes me want to be someone with all that has been given me."
And it's true. The opportunities I've been give make me want to "be someone." Be someone better, kinder, and more loving.
I guess that's what all travel should inspire you to do.
But especially so when you get a chance to visit the Holy Land.