We just returned back from a whirlwind and exciting day. It was the optional day, not really part of the spiritual pilgrimage, but a day of adventure and exploration. We left at 7:30 AM to drive south along the Dead Sea to Masada. We watched a short documentary and then ascended to the top of Masada on the cable cars.
We then drove to Qumran and learned about the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essenes and saw Cave Number 4 where the most important scrolls were found. Then to Jericho to take pictures of the Sycamore Tree and the Mountain of Temptation where the Devil offered to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world.
We then ate an authentic Palestinian meal in a real Palestinian city in the West Bank — Jericho. People did more shopping and everyone rode a camel. Then to the Dead Sea for swimming — er, sorry, I mean floating!
Then back to our hotel for our last Mass together in the Notre Dame Chapel, dinner, blessing of religious objects and for a short nap before all the pilgrims leave the hotel early in the morning — Lufthansa at 1:30 AM and British Air at 3:15 AM. All your family and friends will be home on Friday!
We have heard nothing but compliments for this trip — not one complaint! Your family and friends will return exhausted and exhilerated. A good number of them have already decided to return with us in the future. We have planned a new CSS pilgrimage for early November 2009 which will include Israel and Egypt — stay tuned!