peace is every step

Date: September 12, 2016

Abraham Path; From Beit Idis to Pella

It was still dark when the Muezin announced the start of EID, the festival of breaking the second fasting after Ramadan.

In the early morning our host showed us his herd of sheep. It was cloudy, a rare weather condition for the summer time.

We started our hike with the visit of the ruins of a Byzantine Church. Most of the mosaic floor was covered by  sand. The site, a  cultural treasure, was unprotected.

Our hike took us through two Wadis- Wadi Sirr and Wadi Malawi – with only a few very old oak trees providing shade along the way. We walked down from 600 meters to around sea level.

Despite the unhospitable seeming land we came  across some wildlife – a giant lizard and two communicating Levantine turtles. Das With their hard shells they bumped into each other which made a loud noise.

Walking down into the Jordan Valley in a temperature of over 40 degree celsius was a challenge. Good thing that we carried plenty of water!

From under the shade of a few pine trees we enjoyed the view down into the Jordan  Valley and the West Bank.

We stayed overnight in Pella, a city founded by the Romans. Pella was one of the 10 fabled cities that made up the Decapolis.

Our first sight of Pella. The city has a history of 7000 years of continous settlement. The reason for this is the existence of a well that, according to a Pella resident, produces 700 liters of water in a second.

In the evening we visited the site with our local host. He showed us the pre-Roman Canaanite  temple of Baal costructed in 1270 BC (in the foreground). In the distance down below is the well-preserved Roman Civic complex which was transformed into a church during the Byzantine times.

In the past the site was not protected and stealing artifacts was done without punishment. Nowadays a small area of the site is sourrounded by a wired fence with holes in it for easy access. This site is a treasure for humanity. It needs to be researched, guarded and protected.

Local children watching us with curiosity.

Abraham Path; from Orjan to Beit Idis via Rasoun

In the morning we hiked up the red cliff mountain in the burning heat of the morning sun. We were thankful that the Kermes Oak trees provided a lot of shade.

On the 16 km long hike we walked with 2 new guides- Mahmoud, a retired air force pilot and Moat, a nurse. They explained the vegetation and told stories from the area.

Ale and Lorenz are picking tiny fruits from the Jujube tree.

The fruits had a sweet lemon taste and were delicious.

Often we saw signs of the Roman civilization. The village of Qabla was destroyed by an earthquake and has never been excavated. We walked over  buried temples and houses and saw empty tombs and mysterious caves.

The Roman quarry of Qabla.

Every four hours, the voices of the Muezins from the villages around us were filling the air. We even heard their prayers in the Wadi  Zubia, a valley filled with big and healthy oak trees.

Wadi Zubia

At the end of our hike we visited Jesus’  Cave. In Roman times, the area above the cave was already used to press grapes for wine and olives for olive oil.

The millstone of the olive press. The wooden staff was turned by donkeys walking in a circle.

Ancient wine press. Those who made the wine stomped the grapes with their feet in this area.

Inside of the cave, where legends tell that Jesus was fasting for 40 days, the process of making olive oil was continued.

We stayed overnight in a private home with a family with four beautiful children. The whole family was extremely welcoming. The Grandmother of the children showed me how she makes bread.

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