Monday, August 22, 2005

A day trip to Sodom


A day trip to Sodom... and Gomorroh and two of the other five cities on the plain whose people were subject to genocide by God when they mis-behaved themselves.

Lot escaped with his wife and two daughters as their town was subjected to destruction. Lot's wife turned back when told not to and was turned into a pillar of salt.

Then Lot escpaed into a cave with his two daughters and thinking they were the only ones alive, the daughters got their father drunk and then seduced him and had children, the oldest being Moab.

Funny stories, but we saw Sodom, Lot's wife and Lot's Cave as we made our way down and round the Dead Sea. Fascinating for us, these stories but the main attraction Bible-wise is the Baptism Site, which was just to the north of the Dead Sea.

This site was referrred to in the Gospel of John as Bethany-over-the-Jordan. Bethany is a place where hermits live. It is clear that the early church believed that this was the site as they built many shrines and churches and these were discovered as recently as 1996, after the area became a demilitarised zone. Since then, the Jordanianas have been developing this site with great respect and although there is not all that much to see by way of ruins and although the riverbed was dry, it was a magical place. It was a very odd feeling to be at thye place where both Jesus and John were and where Jesus himself was baptised.

There were some religious loonies from America at the site as well,speakinbg with suitably ridiculous Southern American accents, and we chatted to a group of bikers from Italy, who had travelled here on their bikes from Turkey having taken their bikes there by ferry.

After this we were driven by the very sympathetic Khamis, who had introduced himself to us yesterday morning, in his 30 year old green Mercedes, all the way down the East bank of the Dead Sea, with stunning views up towards the mountains on either side, every now and then broken by a shot of green as a creek wound down cutting canyons into the very colourful rock (reminiscent of the Andes near Uspallata last year). And on the way down,w e stopped to take a photo of Lot's wife... who interestingly looked more like a Victorian lady when we drove back up.... but I didn't ask to stop, yet again.

Khamis must have been a bit puzzled by why we so much wanted to find a deserted tell (hill) at the south end of the lake as he had only been asked to go there once before in 20 years, by a Frenchman and his family. There was not really anything to see there but white dust, but the views were beautiful and it seemd to be an eminent place to have a city. Apparently, to this day, gay people in Syria are called Loti's in reference to this story and, of course in English and Dutch we have sodomites or mietjes. Again, a very strange experience to be here at this very spot.

After that we were made to pay for bringing our driver all this way as he dropped us off at the bottom of a hill, somewhere half way we could find Lot's Cave. It was burning hot, but there was a little breeze and we still had a couple of litres of water so we made it to the site, which to be honest was a little less convincing than Sodom, but at least to was a cave.

The last stop back to Amman, in the hills was to one of the 12 fountains of Moses, where there was a tap with clear fresh clean water coming out of a spring. A popular meeting post, there was a minibus full of chaps there who had been in the Dead Sea, one of tehm offreing his friend's sister to us for 10 JD. We politely declined. We were more connected with the people of Sodom.

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