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A man of many words. Profane, profound, loyal to a fault and a right rat bastard. I love the finer things in life: expensive cigars, cheap women and all the salted, cured meats I can eat. A friend to dogs, lover of humanity and despiser of people. If I were King the world would be a better place, because, well...I would be King! Oh, and I like ice cream.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My Last Middle East Trip Update

Due to the dearth of free internet I haven't been posting while on this trip. It was a pretty normal tour this time. Had a couple nice side trips.

On my first full day Wes Roy (fellow recruiting tribe member) and I took a quick jaunt over the Israeli border into the West Bank. The crossing was crazy. No signs or instructions. Just follow the crowds of Palestinians and hope you don't get lost. I asked the customs guard NOT to stamp my passport with the Israeli visa. If you have Israel stamped in your passport you may will be denied entry into Kuwait, Saudi and some of the other Gulf countries. They stamp a slip of paper and you carry that until you leave.

Anyway, as it turned out we didn't have much time. The Israeli's decided to close the border at 1:30PM that day and we only got in around 10AM. But we hired a Palestinian driver (blue-eyed! Crusader influence I reckon.) and drove to Masada. In 66CE a band of Jewish rebels fighting against Roman rule captured Masada, formerly Herod's winter palace. Sitting high above the Dead Sea Masada is a near impregnable fortress. The Romans built eight encampments on the desert floor surrounding the heights. You can still see them. Their main assault was toward the western gate. The Romans built a siege ramp and in due course were about to breach the wall.

The rebel leader made an impassioned speech to the 960+ rebels trapped inside the walls of Masada. Rather than live as humiliated Roman slaves they agreed to commit suicide. Since suicide is considered a serious sin what the did was basically count off from one to ten. The tenth man then killed the other nine. Then they recounted and again the tenth man killed the other ten. And so on until in the end only one guy actually killed himself. There were some women and children who escaped the slaughter and hid in the fort. When the Romans took possession they were alive to tell what had happened.

Masada is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jason tells me I can claim both Israel AND Palestine since they both have their own governments. It may be weak, but I'm taking it. It's no worse than Greek and Turkish Cyprus.

We made it back to the Jordanian border with 13 minutes to spare. A good day.

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