Jerusalem, Palestine

Monday, February 11, 1929

This morning we three set out for Jericho and the Dead Sea in a nice sedan which we got for the 22 miles after some dickering for 500 mils or $2.50. The winding road over the hills is very pretty and half-way there is the Inn of the Good Samaritan. Jericho is often called the City of Palm Trees, or the town of the Moon Goddess. It was called Jerecho in the bible which means “Place of Perfumes.” The sweet scents still remain. We got them as we passed the dirty stables, etc.

Walking out through the big desert or plain toward the Jordan [River], we soon came to a small swift stream which we had to wade across. On the other side, as our feet were wet,  we ate some lunch while they were drying. Three women came along and had to wade across with the help of Frank and myself. They were a funny sight while crossing. Some distance farther on we passed a sort of oasis effect where there was a house or two and lots of trees and grape vines, etc. This valley of Achor, or Valley of Trouble, is some 1,200 feet or more below the level of the Mediterranean, and the Dead Sea varies from 1,293 to 1,303 feet below it according to the season. Near the Jordan the plain is deeply eroded so that it looks like the Bad Lands of Montana.

All was very muddy and we had a glorious time and lots of fun. We waded through the stream again near the Jordan and climbed a fragment that had not been eroded away. From here the view was dandy. Upstream was the Convent of St. John the Baptist, fortified. This was built in 1882 but several more before date back more than 373 A.D. It was here or near here that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan. Carrying our shoes, we set off toward the Dead Sea carrying our shoes. The mud was nice and oozy and we sank way in sometimes. After a wade in the Jordan we continued, but had to turn away from the sea toward Jericho as it was late. We were still some 3 miles out on the plain when it got dark, after a most exquisite sunset where the mountains of Gilead and Moab were turned a red. We stumbled on in the mud and dark, hoping it would not be necessary to cross the stream. The moon was only a quarter, but the rest was plainly visible. Millions of stars shone brightly overhead. By following the stream up to the main road we didn’t have to wade across again. No sooner had we reached the road than a truck came along and Frank hailed it. Thus we got a ride to Jerusalem. Otherwise we might have had to spend the night in Jericho, a small town of 1,000 and lots of mud and dirt. Had a grand concert on the way back and after dinner, arrived at the hotel at 9 PM. We passed Bethany on the way a short distance from Jerusalem. It is but a tiny village along the road. The trip back cost two bob apiece.

I have decided to go on to Cairo with Frank and Mort, then to Luxor and Port Sudan to get a boat to Bombay. I am going to Bethlehem tomorrow and we go to Port Said Wednesday. Due to the great distance below sea level of the Dead Sea it is very mild there when cold in the surrounding country. Just across the Jordan, near its mouth, is the spot where Moses and the Israelites made camp before coming into the promised land.

Comments are closed.