Sniff, sniff! WTF happened here? I can’t leave you guys alone for three weeks and the first time I sign on I find snake and badgirl? Am I in a time machine? Plus I get demoted. That sucks. I just returned from the desert of the Middle East: Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. Got a couple extra weeks of 85 degree weather out of the deal and returned to 20 degrees and snow on the ground. Since you don’t want to read a missive, just a few points: We followed the traditional path of Moses out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Across the Red Sea (There’s a tunnel, so we didn’t need Moses to part it, across the Sinai to Mt. Sinai, then across Jordan to Mt. Nebo, where Moses saw Israel, then into Israel itself.
* Armed guards accompanied us throughout Egypt. The hotel had a secure perimeter. Guards even went to the can with us, stood on the sidewalk when we went to a store. Black suits in the city, brown suits in the country. Tried hard to see what they were carrying. All I know is that it was big and they had an extended clip on the belt in back. They were introduced as “police officers provided by the government.” They sat in front and didn’t talk much. M-16s are everywhere. You just see the barrel poking out of a pillbox alongside the highway.
• Jordan has lots of hummers with machine guns mounted on top alongside the roadways under a tent. You DO NOT take pictures of them or at checkpoints. The King speaks perfect American English and flies his own Blackhawk helicopter. Also, Indiana Jones lied. To get to Petra you have to walk down a very steep two miles. Helluva climb back up.
• I hadn’t realized the Israelis were so arrogant. Getting across the border was a bitch unless you had $100 for a bribe to get you to the front of the line. They’ll trash your luggage just for fun.
• If you were stuck on a freeway at night in Israel you couldn’t tell the difference between there and the US. It is thoroughly modern. Jordan is just a step behind. Egypt is poor and dirty, but they do have freeways. It’s just that the lane markers are optional. You can fit 6 lanes of cars in 4 lanes of freeway, so that’s what they do.
• The Dead Sea is the world’s biggest hot tub. 1000 feet deep, 2400 feet below sea level, 105 degrees in the summer, and the saltiest thing I have ever tasted.
• Our group was 34 people, 12 different countries, all legal naturalized Americans. A real mixed bunch and a fun group. Although…..some people really are too stupid to travel. Take a roll of toilet paper. Really.
• I believe it is blasphemy to have your picture taken in front of what could very well be the actual tomb of Jesus of Nazareth with a shit eating grin on your face. That is NOT cool. Golgotha, (the skull rock), one of the candidates for the crucifixion spot, is now a paved lot for tour busses.
• We were in Bethlehem, now controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Everyone there would really like it to be peaceful, because when rockets start falling, tourists go away and they all lose their jobs. Those Palestinians are not stupid. Gaza, on the other hand, is a whole different story.
• Glad to be back. This was not a vacation as much as it was a forced march and a pilgrimage. I’m tired and sore. I need more sleep.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
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