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Chambers at Large by the Dead Sea and on the banks of the River Jordan.

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

Over thirty years ago I visited the Holy Land, travelling the length and breadth of Israel in order to see where Jesus was born, where he lived, and where he died. (I’ve even been to his mother’s house in Turkey!). Travelling down the mountainside to the Dead Sea I spotted a sign for the Baptismal Site of Christ and, not really wanting to spend my time sunbathing by the salty waters, I decided to explore this holy place early one Monday morning.

Unlike many other holy sites, which are areas of quiet contemplation, this one is quite large and, once I arrived at the visitor’s centre, I was taken by minibus to the site deemed to be where John the Baptist baptised Jesus.

The site is akin to a wishing well, the water shallow and crystal clear. It has been visited by both Pope John Paul II (of whom there is a mosaic to commemorate his time in the region) and Pope Francis I.

There are five churches built near the banks of the River Jordan, the closest being the Greek Orthodox Church of St John the Baptist.

The church is relatively modern having been built back in the 1990s and is beautifully decorated with mosaics and paintings.

Only yards from the banks of the River Jordan which is patrolled by armed Jordanian soldiers, for on the other bank of the river is Israel, the blue star of David flying above a high wall.

Standing on a wooden platform I stared across the river and watched a large group of Americans, dressed in long white robes, celebrate an immersive baptism in the muddy waters, cheering and clapping joyfully as each initiate took the plunge. Well almost all. One woman dipped down up to her neck, not wanting to get her hair wet and, to be honest, I didn’t blame her.

On the Jordanian bank near where I was standing a man stepped down into the river and dipped a child’s knitted toy into the waters. Slipping on the wet wooden steps he almost fell in and if it wasn’t for a young soldier quickly reaching out, grabbing his arm and pulling him back onto the shore he would have taken a tumble. It was very poignant to see him return the toy to his wife who carried it back to the bus. Why this ritual was carried out, I have no idea, and didn’t want to pry. I only hope the act and the prayers he and his wife offered up bring them some peace of mind.

I had no idea I would be metres from the West Bank of Israel, thinking that the River Jordan would be much wider, but it wasn’t and it was a stark reminder of how religion can delineate the human race as well as bring people together.

I returned to the hotel next to the Dead Sea and took a dip in the water which is another experience not to be missed. Being a strong swimmer I found it disconcerting that I couldn’t turn over and swim on my front. I had to remain on my back and I found the water slightly greasy as well as incredibly salty. Other visitors were slavering the mud from the Dead Sea on their bodies in order to treat their skin, but I didn’t like the slimy feel of the mud and passed on that preferring to return to the hotel and take a steaming shower in cleaner water! A crust of salt forms on the skin if left to dry and due to osmosis it is advised not to stay in the Dead Sea for more than twenty minutes, or suffer dehydration.

A relaxing day by the Dead Sea concluded my visit to Jordan and I’d like to thank Mercury Holidays for organising the tour as I gained a great knowledge of history, religion and humankind.

I’d return to Wadi Rum in a heartbeat, to Petra in a second and I’m repeating my plea to any sci-fi director out there in search of an eager extra – I’m free and willing if it means staying in a pod in Wadi Rum for a while, but this time I’ll be better prepared with a few bottles of red wine cached in my suitcase. Unfortunately, unlike Jesus Christ, I am unable to turn water into wine and a glass of red whilst watching the sun set would have been my idea of bliss.


To read about my visit to the capital of Jordan, Amman, please click on the link:

Wadi Rum where many sci-fi films are made truly is out of this world and one of the highlights of my trip to Jordan. To learn more please click on this link:

My visit to Petra fulfilled a lifetime ambition and I wasn't disappointed. To read more about one of the Wonders of the World please click on the link:

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Linda Morrow
Linda Morrow
Jun 04, 2023

Once more, thank you for your vivid descriptions of a location I will not live to visit. I appreciate the vicarious travel.

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