I forgot to mention something about our city tour and going to the Citadel. While we were at the Citadel, which is quite a high point in the city, though not the highest. We were standing there looking out over part of the city, with the Temple of Hercules behind us, when the call to prayer came on over a very loud speaker. I don’t know if it was from just one place or many, but it was a very interesting sound to hear. It sounds kind of sad and reverent and it continues for several minutes. I didn’t know that the call was “broadcast” over the entire city. It’s interesting that this is how serious the prayer time is taken. Mohammad said that not all of the prayers have to be said when the prayer call is made.
Something else I forgot is that each group is assigned a member of the tourism police. What this means is that there is a policeman who deals accompanies the group during their travels. I’m not sure what they would do exactly, perhaps just be a second pair of eyes. Keep belongings safe when they’re on the bus?
Tuesday May 13
After spending some time in Jerash yesterday and seeing some of thee sights in Amman, we headed to Mount Nebo where we believe that Moses gave his last address before he was buried. From this point, he was shown the promised land of Canaan. It was interesting to see everything laid out and we could see part of the Dead Sea and Jericho.
Our next stop was a mosaic school where one of the people who have been making mosaics showed told us that he has dear friends from Utah who are Mormon. Apparently, the people who make these mosaics train for about 6 months or so before they are really ready to create mosaics that are ready to be sold. And some of their projects can take several days.
We stopped in Madaba, which is the city of churches, to see St. George church. It was built over an old Byzantine church and there is a mosaic map that is the most accurate of the time. We had lunch there and then we continued on to Petra, Jordan. We stayed in Wadi Mussa, Valley of Moses, in a really cool hotel that was once a small village if I remember correctly.
Wednesday May 14
This morning we got an early start on breakfast and were out of the hotel, Beit Zaman, by 8:30am. We drove over to the “park” in Petra where we started a hike into an old city and trading post. I remember learning about the Treasury when I took an Art History class, but I couldn’t remember much about it besides that it was a trading post. I don’t think they talked about it being a place where an entire civilization lived. Nabateans lived there and essentially built this place, carving into the rock to create art and dwellings. After many years another group called the Bdools (Dools) came in, I believe they were what they call badoins or nomads, and lived there. It wasn’t until about 1985 that they were moved out of these cave dwellings and given homes to live in nearby.
Our walk was very pleasant on the way in. It wasn’t very hot and there was quite a bit of shade because the rocks come up so high on either side that the sun doesn’t get down to the floor of the sheek. When you walk up to the treasury it appears through the cracks of the walls and then you’re standing there looking up at it. It’s amazing! There are lots of different influences and cultures incorporated to pay respect to the cultures that would come to trade there.
There were camels there so of course I had to ride one. So for $5 I got to ride a camel around in a circle. Apparently, camels are Mohammad’s very animal. He says they are very emotional, smart, and very well suited for the desert. They don’t have to eat every day because they can store food in their humps and they don’t consume water all the time and store it various places. The have 3 stomachs and they also store water on the bottoms of their feet. They have long eye lashes and can close their noses so that sand won’t get in during sand storms. He said they are very shy, but also that they remember things. If their owner is not kind to them they will seek revenge.
We continued walking into the site and saw a theater and then my mom and I hiked up some stairs to a place called the Urn Tomb. It was really cool. I took a couple of really cool pictures up there too. It was interesting to see all the different colors of rock in the ceilings and the walls.
So, more about badoins. These people live in tents, usually black goat hair, and move around all over the desert. The name comes from where they lived, an area called badea which means highlands. There tents are usually really long and they pitch them so that the wind will move through the tent. In the rain, goat hair expands and becomes almost water proof.
It’s amazing to me how much Jordan looks like Utah. The difference sometimes is really just the colors of the rocks in Utah are much more red and here in Jordan they’re kind of a yellowish brown.
The end of our time in Jordan was marred by saying goodbye to Mohammad. He was a nice guy. And as he would say at the end of most visits… We enjoyed him and he enjoyed us, I can feel it. Haha
Interestingly enough, the process for getting into Israel was pretty intense. Two people looked at my passport on the Jordanian side and at least two people looked at it on the Israeli side. The guy who looked at my passport first on the Israeli asked if I was with a group and then hesitated as he asked if I was traveling with my family.
After getting somewhat settled into the room, we went down stairs and had some dinner. There was lots of really good food and not just traditional stuff. It was nice to have a little bit of what you might call “American” food. When we were finished we changed into swimming suits and took dip in the Red Sea. Yeah, no big deal right? I mean, as I write this portion, I am looking out onto the Red Sea from the balcony of my room. It’s ridiculous…