Saturday, March 17, 2018

The sea, its spoils and an evil queen

Walking distance from this boat, is our own boat ride. 
The crew raise both the Israeli flag and the Canadian flag, and we sing O Canada, although, it's not as melodic as when our captain sings. It's relaxing here on the water and I peek over the side to spy catfish, an unclean fish due to its lack of scales. 
When I look up, I can see the city of Safed, the highest city around the region. I can easily see why Jesus might say, ‘A city on a hill cannot be hid.’

Our singing captain

This is an appropriate segue into lunch at the Jordan River. Saint Peter’s Fish, tilapia, is deep-fried whole and the offered speciality. With a  salad bar, I can choose my own vegetables. Dessert is a bowl of juicy figs and demi-tasses of strong coffee.  

Saint Peter's Fish, talapia
My meal!
Poor soul. He doesn't look happy.

Most of us choose to rededicate our lives by getting re-baptized, and we even have two first timers. One of our group chats with a couple sitting on the stone seats near the water, and learn the man wishes to be baptized, but had no one to do it. Our team leader, a pastor, offers to do the honours. 
It’s a wonderful experience. The water is cool, but clear and afterward, one of our group plays the harmonica, and we sing ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘We have Decided to Follow Jesus'.

Our group getting baptized

With the help of my husband, I get re-baptized

We dry off, hand in our towels and choir robes and once on the bus, begin a hair-raising ride up nearby Mount Bernice which overlooks Tiberias. 

View of Tiberias, with the ruins of Bernice's Palace at the centre.

Only a skilled bus driver like ours can handle this road. But it’s worth the gasps and occasional prayers. The view below us encompasses not only Tiberias, but the whole Sea of Galilee and even Bernice’s palace. This woman, who would have been dubbed a cougar today, was a member of the Herodian dynasty, a queen, and all I will say on her behalf is that I believe insanity ran in that family. Bernice was an evil woman. 
But the ruins of the palace below hide an even darker secret. It was where Salome danced the dance of seven veils and then asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. Today, it slowly crumbles, as Tiberias’s mayor is an Orthodox Jew and won’t spend the money on a place so linked to Christianity.

Our guide quizzes us on what we think the flag means, our first homework question. One person offers a valid answer. It’s wrong, so I'm lost because I thought her answer was sound.  
Yossi commiserates with us. Not even Jews know the answer. At Capernaum, he asked a fellow tour guide and Jew what the Star of David meant, and the man did not know. It’s back to the Google searches, I guess.

Tonight, we stay at a hotel in Tiberias. While our room smells like smoke, we have a small balcony and a nice view of the Sea of Galilee and the hotel is very wheelchair accessible. Before supper, a group of us go out for a walk and discover a few shops down by the water, where we purchase a few souvenirs. 

The view from our Tiberias hotel room

Shopping in Tiberias

Tomorrow, it's on to Nazareth and one tough Old Testament prophet!

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I shouldn't have left her alone!

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