What more can be said about Hana Khoury, our Coptic Christian guide on the Israel portion of our trip. His knowledge and insight into life in both historical/biblical and present-day Israel was encyclopedic. His patience and flexibility in juggling our scheduled visits and his willingness to accommodate the special interests of individual members of our group was remarkable. And I think we all found fascinating the insight Hana gave us into the life of a middle-class, non-Jewish resident of modern-day Israel. Also important to our enjoyment of this trip were the Arabic speakers in our group: Hadi and Mirella Hajar and Samira Loschiavo. On numerous occasions, their facility in Arabic was immensely helpful to the group.
With respect to the Biblical sites, the geography of The Holy Land gave new meaning to the passages Rev. Dan read to us at each site. And I learned that it does not really matter if these sites were the exact spot on which events took place. The geography is sufficient to convey the sense of the place. The selection of archeological sites was comprehensive. Not only did we visit all of the usual places of interest (Masada, Sea of Galilee, The Dead Sea, The Old City of Jerusalem), we visited many places that were unfamiliar to me, but turned out to be of great interest (Magdala, Capernaum, Qumran, Jerash, Mt Nebo).
And then there was Petra. If I had a "Bucket List," Petra would definitely be on it. Wow!
Finally, I want to compliment our group. I was greatly impressed by the kindness and consideration that people showed to each other and the general sense of humor that we maintained when faced with the challenge of travel and lodging in the Middle East. In these troubled times, this trip restored my faith in human nature and gave me hope.