Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Watercolor Travel Journal- Sketches from the Holy Land Part 3 - Tiberias to the Dead Sea

The third part of our Holy Land tour brought us from Tiberias to the Dead Sea.  We would now be travelling south following the River Jordan leaving the lush Galilean area and then passing by the Palestinian controlled mountainous region of Samaria and then the Judean desert until we reach the town of Ein Bobek on the shores of the Dead Sea where our hotel is located. The Bible is rich with stories set in these areas and of their people.

Our first stop was at Yardenit on the River Jordan. It is popular with Christian pilgrims as a place of baptism on the River Jordan.  Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist on the river but the original site is placed farther south in Qasr el Yahud, which is just north of the Dead Sea and east of Jericho. It became  a frontier area, so a new replacement site was established in Yardenit.  Four of us in the group went through the baptism. We rented the white frock and towels. Our baptism was conducted by one of our co-pilgrims who is a pastor and also by a woman pastor from Belleville, Illinois.  It was a great experience.

KRuds Baptism on the River Jordan
Beth Shean

We were amazed by the archeological site of Beth Shean. It is strategically located at the junction of the Jordan River Valley and Jezreel Valley and controlled access from the interior to the coast as well as to Jerusalem and the Galilee. It has been continuously occupied for more than 6000 years making it one of the oldest cities in Israel. Archeological excavations have revealed more than 18 successive ancient towns. Today, you can see ruins from the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantium periods. This was probably one of the main stopping points for Galileans like Jesus and his family on their pilgrimages to Jerusalem.

Amphitheater in Beth Shean


Qumran is best known as the place nearest to the caves in the desert cliffs where the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden. Since the first discovery, extensive excavations were conducted in the area, unearthing nearly 900 scrolls written in Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek and Nabatean on parchment and some on papyrus. It is billed as one of the top archaeological discoveries, maybe  second only to finding King Tut's tomb since the texts have great linguistic, historical and religious significance. Walking along the excavation site, we saw cisterns, mikvahs (Jewish ritual bath), a gathering room and a place for writing. It is said to have been the home of a Jewish sect, Essenes.

Qumram caves

Dead Sea
Our hotel for the night was in the resort town of Ein Bobek and from our room's balcony, we are treated to a panoramic view of the Dead Sea and the Judean desert. We immediately changed into swim suits for a dip in the Dead Sea itself. You had to be careful going in for fear of turning over and swallowing the super salty water.

The Dead Sea or Salt Sea is a salt lake bordering Jordan, Palestine and Israel, at an elevation of more than 1400 feet below sea level, it is the lowest point on earth. It is 9.6 times saltier than the ocean so animals cannot flourish. Since biblical times, it has been a refuge and resort because the temperature around the Dead Sea is pleasant year round plus the water is claimed to have healing capabilities and is an abundant source of minerals for health and beauty as well as commercial use. Sadly, the Dead Sea is actually dying as the supply of water from the River Jordan has been curtailed significantly due to recent dam projects. Because of the high density of the water, you actually float on the Dead Sea.

Floating on the Dead Sea

Note: All sketches were painted on an Arches Carnet de Voyage Travel Book with artists grade Schmincke and Daler Rowney watercolors.


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