|Woke up to another beautiful morning next to the lake of Galilee. We headed downtown to a small church named after Saint Peter and built in about 1100 A.D. at the time of the Crusades. There's a nice little chapel that we had morning mass in before we were setting up the day to drive south along the Jordan Valley.
After mass, we headed south towards our next stop. The River Jordan actually begins on the north side of the Lake of Galilee, but continues southward from a small inlet on the lake. Whatever you imagined the Jordan River to be, it is a very small Creek maybe 8 to 10 feet wide. It might've been bigger many years ago but there's been so many canals and irrigation along the Jordan Valley it is basically a small meandering creek through the valley to the Dead Sea.
The Jordan Valley Drive is absolutely stunning, but unfortunately our bus driver never stopped, so any pictures I took was through the glass on the bus. The first half of the Jordan Valley is rich and fertile and very green. Lots of farming, fig trees, vegetables and other fruits are on both sides of the river. The Jordan River is the boundary between Jordan and Israel and there is a Barbwire fence along the route and it is mutually monitored by each country through a peace treaty.
Subtly, the area becomes almost a desert. High mountain cliffs run the east side of the river guarding the valley and the land becomes dry with only occasional groups of green that arise from underground springs. The view of the Judea mountains is outstanding and I know none of the pics do justice.during the drive, our tour guide told us many of the biblical story cool stories that occurred, including stories of Abraham, Soddem and Gomorrah, King Herod, and John the Baptist.
We stopped along the Jordan River, just before it empties into the Dead Sea, and a traditional site where John the Baptist perform the services, including baptizing Jesus. Everyone but four of us (yes I was a wimp) purchased white robes and was dumped in the Jordan River renewing their baptismal vows. The water was cold, murky and just not welcoming for a baptism in my opinion. (In fact, despite what the tour guide said, I read by that time, the Jordan has picked quite a bit of sewage, so I was not that eager). But we did have the priest pour water over our heads and baptized us that way. So we had our baptism and wedding vows renewed during this trip.