In the words of Nelly, “It’s Getting Hot in Here”

Sonny and Cher
Peanut butter and jelly
Captain Smith and PocahontasBonnie and Clyde
Ruti and Brandon
Fannie Whitenack Libbey and Inez Smith Soule

And now… and

That’s right folks. A matrimony of sorts has occurred for a few reasons:

1. There’s only one computer
2. Internet access comes at 62 shekels an hour and we want to save our shekels for Ruti roadside souvenirs
3. The authors are exhausted, but dedicated to you our readers and want you to stay abreast of our travels in the Holy Land. SHALOM!

Once again, we stayed up “past our bedtime” blogging and awoke very early to pack, board the bus and leave our home-away-from-home in Tiberius over the past three days.

Our first stop along the route was the region of Beit Shean, city of Skeetopolis. (Pronounced Ski Topless.) This typical Roman city was built on an ancient sea route and has several outstanding characteristics that separate it from every other ruin in the countryside: Saul was beheaded and impaled on the city walls, The Greatest Story Ever Told (cross scene) was filmed here and its total destruction by an earthquake in 65 AD did not hinder the remarkable excavation of the past 20 years. The city is almost completely intact.

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Ruti pointed out that there are similarities in all of these spots. Apparently, every Roman city that respects itself has an amphitheater, theater, bath house, shrines and a cat about to give birth.

We stopped in to the amphitheater where we’re sure Ruti would have loved to have karaoked, however as she reminded us again today, her voice is lower than the Dead Sea. I guess we will have to wait until St. Anne’s.

Two girls from our group did a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace to showcase the acoustics of these ancient facilities. We were sitting on rows XI and XII thinking we would have chosen something that screamed a little more Tex-ass! “All Night Long” by Lionel Ritchie.

Speaking of, we headed back to the bus where Lincee arranged her iPod speakers to blare our theme song for Israeli Invasion ’08. Ruti lead the “All Night Long” mambo down the center aisle, raising the roof a few eight counts before snapping the microphone up, shooting a glance at Lincee to sit down and telling David the bus driver, “Let’s rock and row-ell!”

Our rocking and rolling took us on a drive through the Gaza Strip. We weren’t able to see anything or get out and explore because it is still quite dangerous territory….apparently. Ruti told us the history, but we’re going to be honest here. We did not learn anything because we were cat napping. We were up until 3:00 a.m. writing our individual blogs— pre merger, remember?

We were awakened by the Islamic call to worship (see below) as we passed by Jericho (NJ gives a shout out to William, Margaret, the Rugs and the Battle that Joshua fit.) It is a Palestinian territory, one of the five most ancient cities in the world and the lowest spot on Earth. It is also located near the sight where Christ was tempted by Satan to turn a rock into bread among other temptations (Matthew 4). Further down the road, Ruti had David stop the bus to point out more Israeli wildlife (no conies) and the gold dome church which, although a military zone and not visitable, is thought to be the place where Christ was actually baptized on the Jordan River. Ruti had a great “ism” here: “You can not see it. But I’ve been there.”

Next on the Ruti “rowed” trip is Qumeran, the site of the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls. Every book of the Old Testament was discovered here, except Ruth. Or Esther. We take separate notes during our adventures and as with any merger, there are sure to be a few glitches in the system, including passage and accuracy of information. But we do have 20 corporate shekels riding on this one. We’re really looking forward to the company car and expense account.

We believe Ruti had planned on taking us on a hike into the caverns that held the Dead Sea scrolls, but several members of the other group had a bathroom emergency. Ruti proceeded to yell into the microphone as David was navigating the bus between two drop-off cliffs, “Emergency Tex-ass to ease yourself.” At that point, Brandon piped up, equally as loud, “Hey ya’ll…play ‘Easy Like Sunday Morning.’”

It’s lunch time on day five which means yet again we are bussed to one of Ruti’s many familial establishments. This one, in particular, we shall refer to as Stuckey’s…Israel-style. Shaking things up, we ENTERED through the gift shop this time. We were near the back of the crowd, which gave us plenty of time to peruse the chatchies, including:

1. AHAVA body products from the Dead Sea priced three times more than what we pay at the Urban Retreat
2. Life size falafel and challah postcards (extra postage required)
3. Camel scarves
4. Winnie the Pooh snow globes
5. Punjab pants
6. Kosher boxers (see below)


This is encouraging! If the last two items can co-exist in an 800 square foot former beauty shop / Druize produce stand, then SURELY these two countries can learn to get along.

After lunch, we journeyed to Masada. This mighty fortress was the last stronghold and stand of the Jewish zealots against Rome, on the edge of the barren Negev Desert. Masada is a symbol of courage and perseverance for the Jewish people, where 960 Jewish defenders organized their last resistance to the “Rowmun” conquerors. Essentially, we are talking about a 950 BC Alamo. But the majority of our group (NJ and LR not included) was more interested in some dude, AKA Saint Francis of Assissi, feeding a bird crackers out of the palm of his hand, than of the historical and political significance of this site.

After we walked the second Herodian Palace, we made our way to the bath house. Plainly stated in the words of our fearless leader Ruti, “Ze bath howse saowna (sauna) had but one purhpose. All jew have to do in here es seet and sweat.”

Mission accomplished Ruti. We were sweating from every pore imaginable and places we didn’t even know we had sweat glands. Did I mention we were in the desert?

We were all ready to take a refreshing “flowte” in the Dead Sea, which is 29% salt, at this point. We did, however, have several rules we had to follow before Ruti would let us off the bus.

1. NO DIVING! Apparently, the suction that is created between your lungs and the water when you dive causes an almost instantaneous death.
2. “Your body is a ‘bowte’ and your hands are the ‘rowers’”, meaning, DON’T SPLASH!
3. You will discover all cuts once you get into the Sea.
4. Don’t dunk your hair, because it will run down into your eyes and BURN!

We rushed upstairs to change into our bathing suits. Being Texas girls, we were expecting a refreshing dip in the Sea. Instead, we waded in to find that not only were our feet were going to be massacred by the salt blocks, but the day’s theme of sweating was still being carried out. It was more like a Masada bath house/sauna. We quickly acclimated to the warm waters and joined our comrades in the slathering of Dead Sea salts and exfoliating our bodies. Guys included.

Comments Overheard at the Dead Sea
1. Dr. Chia: “Do you blink or wink to keep the salt out of your eyes?”
2. Elder Henkel, Babs McQueen, JenHen and Bon Bon: “Look [fill in the blank name] is walking on WATER! Who has a camera?”
3. The Kennedy’s (not John John and Caroline Bessett, but Scott and Kimberly): “I KNEW we shouldn’t have shaved our legs this morning.”
4. Brandon: “I’ve never exfoliated my chest hair before, or been this in touch with my feminine side.”

We finished up our Dead Sea experience with what Carol was convinced to be a mud bath. However, the rest of us are positive, based on the sign that said “DANGER…DO NOT ENTER” and “STEEP CLIFF” as well as the putrid smell and gurgling, bubbly waters that we were in a sewage treatment facility. We half expected six Israeli kids to jump out from behind the jetty and steal our cameras.

Nevertheless, we considered it part of our Dead Sea experience and rubbed the “mud” all over our bodies.

Following a detox bath, we joined our group for dinner and later capped out the evening with bar room games, cocktails and serenading from an Israeli Jamaican Neil Diamond. (He was the bar’s evening entertainment.)

NOTE TO READER: Please return later today to see these GREAT pictures. We are having Internet issues.

Ruti, ever the PC tour guide, instructed us this afternoon on how to perform the Islamic “Call to Worship” (she’s a Croatian/Israeli Jew). We’ve included two easy steps below so you, our readers at home, can feel a part.

STEP ONE: Leader asks a question like “Are hugh ready to rowell?”; “Do hugh hear me, Tex-ass?” “Do hugh want to stop for some falafel at my sea-ster’s store?”

STEP TWO: If in agreement, congregants should partially open their mouths, as if to accept a strawberry. The tongue titillates between the teeth and upper lip and the sound “A LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA” should be uttered in a C# major chord in the tambour the congregant is most comfortable with.

Cliff’s Notes Version: never sleeping, packing, blogging, performing, Gaza stripping, Dead Sea scrolling, boxer buying, sweating, sweating, sweating, slathering, exfoliating, detoxing, retoxing, botoxing, toasting

Campbell JANE Otto was born around 4:45 p.m. Houston time. That’s 1:00 a.m. Israeli time. She’s the most beautiful baby this side of the Jordan, or anywhere else in the world and Aunt Nancy JANE can’t wait to meet her half namesake! We are including a picture below for your viewing pleasure.

State of the Union Update
Okay, so, well…our plan didn’t work. The main reason for combining forces was to consolidate our efforts, increase productivity and decrease sleep deprivation. It is now 4:04 a.m.

While our efforts were somewhat thwarted by the birth of Nancy Jane’s niece, this “combining of the efforts” really just produces double the reflection, triple the fun and we think we may have come down with a case of holy laughter, or it could just be brain rot from the feces we rubbed on our faces.

We are committed to this merger, however, and believe in what it will do for the cause of Holy Land blogging. So, stick with us! We promise it will be worth the ride.

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June 3, 2008 12:25 am

Karamu ladies! Oh Fannie and Inez. Love those girls. : ) I’m actually quite impressed you were able to remember those names after the exhausting day you’ve had. Seriously, at some point you HAVE to get some sleep. I love holy laughter and can’t wait to be let in on some more of the funnies when you get home. Nancy JANE, I’m so excited for you to be an aunt to a little girl with an awesome name! She’s going to love you!!!!! Who wouldn’t? I miss you both immensely!

June 3, 2008 7:47 am

Oh, so one of MY other memories from my trip (of course almost 20 years ago) was that there were little options to stop and potty (despite paying) and we were told to “sweat it out”….uh, yeah, I remember the sweat, but i STILL had to pee! Still lovin the recaps!

June 3, 2008 9:41 am

What a wonderful trip! We have never met, but I have read your blog/recap for ages and one of my firends is on the trip with you (small world). If you get a chance tell Jennifer H “hello”.

Enjoy the fantastic trip and all you will learn and experience.

June 3, 2008 9:45 am

I LOVE JEREMY, I could just eat him up.

June 3, 2008 11:22 am

How ’bout including Pam & Carol in the pairs grouping??? I miss my friend.

CONGRATS to Auntie Nancy JANE! And soooooooooo many of us are very appreciative of your lack of sleep just so we can know what you’ve been seeing and doing! You indeed are the dynamic duo 🙂

June 3, 2008 5:51 pm

Good memory on the Fanny and Inez – I can never remember their names and have to look them up each year for FOunder’s Day!

June 4, 2008 5:22 pm

I think you should have bought the pants and the boxers and put them together…Brokeback Mountain style.

I usually only come for the Bachelor recaps, but I’m loving your trip entries.

June 5, 2008 5:23 am

Heeeeeey! What happened to the pictorial?

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