And an Aussie Christmas Day
25.12.1964 - 26.12.1964
Friday 25-12-64 Christmas Day
We were up quite late after getting back at all hours from Bethlehem last night, and left the hotel about 11 am to take full advantage of the Doughty’s Christmas Day invitation. And so we had a wonderful Christmas Day, starting with a hot bath, then lunch. We drank beer, cognac, whisky, drambuie and private mixture all day, ate savouries and mince pies, talked, watched slides, listened to music, talked, met their friends, talked, drank, enjoyed ourselves, had a superb turkey dinner, with wine and champagne, smoked after dinner cigars and finally went home tipsy. I could not have hoped for a better Christmas. It was only slightly marred by the fact that I threw up before going to bed. I was quite drunk and my head whirled every time I put it on the pillow and closed my eyes.
Saturday 26-12-64 Boxing Day
Set off from Jerusalem to hitchhike to Jericho then back to Amman. Got down to Jericho alright and out to the excavations, which I remember well from Archaeology lectures at uni. As we approached, our first sight was of a bare undulating hill, rather artificial looking, with a bright turquoise coloured public toilet at its base and a wire fence surrounding all. We gave the student story and got in free of charge. We climbed up the hill and could see nothing at first, but then to our left came across the main excavation, a huge gaping pit some 70 ft deep, with the 9000 year old stone tower at the bottom.
I had finally seen it. Of all the ancient dug-up things I had learnt about at those lectures, this was the one I had most wanted to see. I don’t know why, but that is true. The tunnel down the centre of the tower was there, and so were the remains of some adjoining walls. I climbed down the tunnel and it gave me quite a thrill. The other excavations were pretty much the same as the lesser parts of the main dig, but it was interesting to see in the sheer walls of the pits the clearly defined stratas formed as buildings had been built upon the ruins of others over the millennia.
I could see where low mud brick walls had finally become part of the earth again. It was a beautiful example of a ‘tell’. From the top of it I could see the towering rock Mountain of Temptation with its monasteries overlooking Jericho, and in the opposite direction the glittering Dead Sea and the fertile Jordan Valley. Another direction showed me one of the Jericho Palestinian Refugee camps, and compared with slums I have seen in India and elsewhere, they didn’t look too bad.
The view across the mud roof tops reminded me of a dried out waterhole, when the mud bottom cracks and flakes. How good it would be to write a wonderful description of that I thought.
We got a lift back to the main road with a chap who gave us the address of a club in Amman where he said we could stay free of charge - the Gazeira Club. He also gave us the usual jazz about the plight of the refugees. Everyone impresses upon you the rightness of the Arab cause in regard to Israel. You do get fed up with them talking about it. Back on the main road a car stopped with an American tourist in it, a Texan woman on her yearly jaunt abroad. She was paying $10 for the taxi for the day, and had a list of the places she wanted to visit. We went down to the Dead Sea with her, spent about five minutes there while she took a photo, then back to the main road. The whole thing could not have taken us more than about fifteen minutes.
We got a ride into Amman in a fast American car and got into the Gazeira Club for the night. Jordanians all seem to like Australians very much, and are definitely the most hospitable people we have met so far - extremely friendly. There are restrictions all over about photos, but so far we have not experienced any trouble.