Amman to Israel

Again, an early start to our day after breakfast. Once settled in the bus, morning prayers songs were sung – our bus took us from Jordan to Israel and we started going through what would become routine on our travel security checkpoints, this one was at the Jordanian border into Israel. A TSA type of scan of  all our luggage and our papers were scrutinized, with some questions thrown in to ensure that we were all part of the group. At this point we changed buses and guides, Talal the experienced guide was replaced by a younger man by the name of Shehadi a Palestinian who would be our guide for the next 3 days.

Once all the immigration formalities, luggage and change of buses was completed we started our bus journey to Capernaum, with the sea of Galilee in sight. Our new guide Shehadi’s explanation was inaudible, partly due to his quieter voice and an accent that would take a bit to get used to, making us strain our ears to hear him. However he was well versed in the history of the various sites we were about to visit, explaining in detail the landmarks such as Mt.Tabor.  We would skip visiting that mountain as it would require an arduous climb which Royal Omania and Bindu had decided was not a climb that most of our group were equal to since from Bindu’s description it would take the same amount of time to return which would be a total of 8 hours, once we reached the summit.

Mt.Tabor has a special place in Judaism & the Old Testament, where supposedly the blessing of Moses took place as explained by Shehadi, who is a Palestinian Christian. From there we were on our way to  Capernaum the significance of which was unknown to me but from what I have gathered is that Jesus used this town as his base for preaching in Galilee and one of his miraculous healing episodes was here that of the cure of  Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. The White Synagogue, named for standing out against the rest of the landscape in it’s imported white sandstone. The point which is emphasized later on in the bible is that Jesus was a Jew who, albeit preached a different word, but would often make his presence and more important his words, considered heretical to the Jewish Orthodoxy in that synagogue and in the temple of Jerusalem. Capernaum is referred to by Mark as Jesus “own city”.

We stopped by a museum which had artifacts from ancient Galilee – and from there we got on to boat, appropriately called Matthew,  which would take us on the “Sea” of Galilee, the quotations are because it is actually a freshwater lake and just called sea by tradition. The boat ride was good we got some fresh air while Shehadi the tour guide and the boat crew keep us entertained with some of the history of the region, as well as some local music – it had symbolism but it was lost on me, and any explanation about it was drowned out by Shehadi’s quiet tone and the chug,chug,chug of the motor. As a special gesture and at the behest of the captain of the boat there was even a hoisting of the Indian tricolor flag next to the Israeli star of David, symbolic yet a nice gesture.

Our next stop was the Mount of Beatitudes, in Tabgha Israel where the church is a Roman Catholic one that is believed to be on the same spot that Jesus gave his most famous sermon and performed the miracle of feeding the thousands with the loaves of bread and few fish.  A good two hours was spent in exploring the church and it’s precincts. Our bus ride back was a quieter one, everyone was tired after the sight seeing and looking forward to a shower, dinner and a good night’s sleep. We were checked in at a hotel in Nazareth and that’s where we spent the night.

Bindu rallying the group around at Capernaum – the White Synagogue.

At the Moses burial church, some of the group.

A view of the boat we sailed on the Sea of Galilee

Group photo at the Mount of Beatitudes.

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