we woke up bright and early to get out of jerusalem and on with our journey. though it wasn't too bright yet. in fact while waiting on the bus for late people (they hadn't been woken up, eeep!) i got to see the sunrise out the back window. and this bus ride was pretty unfortunate; in general - because of people being sick and missing things, and having 8 israeli soliders with us, suddenly there were no longer ANY extra seats. i had been the middlest person on the bus, so i ended up grabbing the last 'window' seat (so i would have a place to lean) but it was the back left corner. so there wasn't actually a window, and there wasn't really any leg room so i ended up feeling pretty squished and not able to sleep. but any uncomfortableness i went through this morning was NOTHING compared to this afternoon.
anyways, so we drove into the desert, i was trying my best to look out the window and see everything i could, but when we got off the bus, it was incredible. just a breathtaking view, some palm trees, the dead sea, the dessert, other mountains and masada. our favorite and best 'tourguide' Michael was back and so we did another circle of name, place & something special (the two i'd used in prior circles were my hives and my love of raw garlic) and so i informed everyone about my preparedness for the day (snacks, chocolate-covered espresso beans & sunscreen).
i failed to mention the other 25 pounds worth of unknown stuff in my bag, or even to realize how bogged down i'd be eventually, but at this moment it was fine. but not for long, about halfway up the mountain i started getting tired, and i'm out of shape - but not that bad! and then about 2/3rds of the way danny grabbed my bag, gasped at the weight and proceeded to laugh at me for being such a fool. Babs had even offered to switch bags earlier and i refused. so i continued my madness and made it up the whole thing, i was practically the last person up. but it was good practice for the big hike the next day!
at the top of masada we got a mini-lecture from Michael, and i'll be honest i had heard the word 'masada' before, but i knew pretty much nothing. this just made all the information new, though also a bit over my head. someday when i'm a scholar of Masada i'll tell you everything, but that day is not today.
we went over to the southern cistern (we actually did a lot of cisterning while in israel) and it was pretty incredible. besides the amazing beauty of the place, we happened to be there at the right time for the sun to be streaming in thru the holes in the top, and it cast an awe-some light. all the better for Tamar and Mati to put on a hilarious fake meeting between King Herod and Eleazar ben Simon ( i think? someone correct me if i'm wrong!). either way, it was an informative but mostly funny argument.
then dave taught us all about pigeons and doves and dovecoats. we also got to see the ramp that the Romans had built up to the side of the mountain in their eventually winning attempt to topple the jews there/here. and seeing the ruins of roman camps is just kind of insane, especially for an ex-latin student, i know way too much about the romans. this was also the first day of Michael pimping ol' Josephus and his book the Jewish Wars (which is on my reading list now). apparently he is the only source for a lot of jewish history. going anywhere with Michael was like having a history book with us, he would tell us story after story about things that had happened to the jews, and you all know how i love history classes, it was pretty much sitting in an amazing place and hearing the stories about what had happened there, exactly where we were, but thousands of years before.
then after some free time to walk around, we all met back up, and recieved an amazing performance.