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Dead Sea Aug 4 029

One sunny morning drive out of Amman through one of its colourful suburbs, take the desert road and marvel at the emptiness around, as it stretches out in shades of yellow, dusty light.

And then, 50 minutes later, arrive at the Baptism site, on the Jordan river. (more on the history of the place here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptism_of_Jesus)

Once you are there, wait patiently on a wooden bench in the shade and chat with the guy who makes nice, strong Arabic coffee. 

As this is a border area, you are not allowed beyond the hut of the friendly barista on your own. There is a mini bus every half an hour or so, which will take down a winding, scorched road to the Baptism Site.  

And then you are there. The landscape is one of dry, harsh, quiet beauty. 

The river is a mere greenish trickle today.

It is hard to imagine it as it must have been 2000 years ago. And yet, despite its miniature size, it is hard to take it all in.

The sights are bare and uncompromising as you walk around with a guide and your thoughts.

And then you get to the border. Jordan and Israel stand face to face over the exhausted little river. 

The Israeli guards give you bored looks over the water. The two flags fly in the blinding light, barely 10 metres apart. 

A bunch of pilgrims in white ceremonial dresses get in the water on the Israeli side.

On the Jordanian side, a few sun burnt Brits are filling their bottles with holy water. They could shake hands with the other country’s tourists if they stretched out a bit. 

Two sides to every river.Dead Sea Aug 4 034