5. Jericho, Palestinian Territories.
After a 6 hr flight we reached the Queen Alia Airport of Jordan and immediately headed to Israel. After completing the immigration formalities we started our pilgrimage with Jericho, the smallest city in the world. We met our guide, Fredy, who is an expert on the Holy Land. The tour bus driver is Iyad, who just got sparkling Mercedes Benz bus for the occasion. Both are Christians. Arab Christians are only two per cent of the population in the Holy Land.Jericho is a small city surrounded by olive and date palm trees. Our first site was the Sycamore tree where Zacchaeus described as a short man, climbed up the sycamore fig tree so that he might be able to see Jesus. When Jesus reached the spot he looked up into the branches, addressed Zacchaeus by name, and told him to come down, for he intended to visit his house.Jericho holds an important place in the life of Jesus since tradition holds that it was on this mountain that Jesus fasted for forty days and nights before beginning his public ministry. There are still many caves which dot the face of the mountain and a Greek Monastery was built here over the cave that Jesus was said to have used. At the very top of the mountain there are remains of an attempt to build a church on top of the mountain in the 19th century. No devil was there, but we drove down the mountain to the "Temptation Restaurant" where we were all tempted to leave our diets for the best lunch of the whole pilgrimage followed by a brief visit to Elijah’s spring. We headed to Nazareth for the night stay at Hotel Rimonia.