Welcome to Jordan

“You are welcome to Jordan” was the phrase we heard from almost everyone we met on our recent whirlwind trip to the Middle East.  “Please, go home and tell your friends and family they are welcome to Jordan too.”  Jordan, like Turkey, is a predominately safe country with some very difficult neighbors.  It doesn’t have any state issued travel warnings.  Mexico does. (Just to provide a little perspective.)

The curbs were the most colorful part of Amman.

The curbs were the most colorful part of Amman.

 

I was nervous about traveling to Jordan until I got there.  Even though the flights were long, it was worth the trip.  We had three days in country which gave us time to see Amman, the Dead Sea, Petra and spend the night in the Wadi Rum.

Amman had some good local food and dabbled in interesting graffiti, but in my short stay there I didn’t see much else worth discovering.  It’s a very beige city—the Earth and buildings are the same color.

 

 

 

 

 

Floating in the Dead Sea

Floating in the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea disappointed in its beauty but exceeded my expectations in its coolness.  I wrongly envisioned the salt flats of Bolivia turning into a lake. But there is no salt as far as I could see at the Dead Sea.  The beach consists of dirt, not even sand.  A dark brown, muddy mess leads to the sea.  The water is clear and looks like a grease spill.  It’s oily to the touch.  And it proved to be as buoyant as I’d read it would.  I had my doubts, as I can’t float.  Floating was fun, but even better was to get yourself vertical (a bit of a struggle).  In most water you’d sink and need to swim to the top.  Not in the Dead Sea.  Place your arms at your sides like a pencil and then bring them up through the water quickly in an attempt to push yourself down and it will spring you right back out as if you are as weightless as a cork.  We entertained ourselves with this for a while.  Twenty minutes in the water is more than enough before you’re ready to rinse off.  It starts to burn and itch.

Mmm Mmm Good!

Mmm Mmm Good!

 

Petra was our next adventure.  We arrived in the evening on a night tours weren’t being offered so we took a cooking class at the Petra Kitchen—a great experience.  You learn to cook some traditional foods, but even better you are working and eating with travelers from across the globe.  Our group covered Iran, Romania, Spain, Italy, South Africa, Germany, Switzerland, the States, and Bulgaria.

 

The next morning we were up early for a full day in Petra.  They say you could spend a week investigating Petra.  I’m sure you could, but if you are active, pack a lunch and don’t mind walking for eight straight hours you can see most of it in one day (two if you are really enticed by it and have time).  We walked through the Siq to the Treasury, strolled all around the base and then hiked up to the Monastery and the High Place of Sacrifice.  Perfect weather, a perfect day, perfect views.  Although, as a New Englander there are very few hikes I’ve taken that match the beauty of a peak in the White Mountains.  Still, this is a different vision of carved facades of buildings with red and pink stones that intertwine and intermingle like a slab of marble.

At the Monastery in Petra

At the Monastery in Petra

Our final stop was New Year’s Eve in the Wadi Rum at a tourist Bedouin camp where they cook, play music and dance in traditional Bedouin style.  All fun, but I was so tired that I didn’t make it to the midnight fireworks display.  Part of the arrangement at the Bedouin camp is that they take you on a two hour jeep tour.  If this was all I’d done in the Wadi Rum I’d have been disappointed.  They take you to many little camps to drink tea and hopefully by products.  They try to get you to ride camels—the place to do it if you’re interested.  I’ve ridden camels before and I don’t need to do it again.  It’s a bumpy, high ride.  You can see where Lawrence of Arabia supposedly camped.  If they took you to someplace really unique it would be a better experience.  Our maybe our guide was lacking.

Morning stroll through the Wadi Rum

Morning stroll through the Wadi Rum

New Year’s day we hired a local guide to walk us through the desert so we didn’t get lost.  Our guide was a 19-year-old Bedouin in fancy, but flexible loafers.  He kept pace through the desert sands that are hard to walk through, and I had to work to keep up, but it felt good to huff and puff a little bit.  He showed us brush that can be made into soap, and stones you can use for blush.  He walked us up and down rippled sand dunes and past snake holes and beetle tracks.  We didn’t see a dung beetle much to my disappointment.  We laid down in the sand and made snow angles.  In a two hour walk we saw white, hard sand; coarse sand and such fine sand that when you push it down the dunes it looks like water running and trickling to a stop.  It was beautiful and relaxing.  We’d trudge up a huge, steep dune and threw ourselves down into the soft sand at the top, starring up at the sky.  While the colors of the Wadi Rum are lovely, the desert it less impressive than the desert of Egypt where it appears to be nothing but sand—a beach that never reaches the sea.  The vastness and emptiness of an Egyptian desert is unique to behold.  The Wadi Ram seems livable.  For all the efforts of trudging up the dune, we finally ran down, bounding like we were walking on the moon, filling our shoes with sand.  It was a carefree romp.  It didn’t matter if we fell, the ground was soft and the vaulting down didn’t hurt the knees.  It felt like freedom.

2017-10-25T14:24:29+00:00

About the Author:

Maggie Downie
Thank you for giving your time to stop and read my blog. I hope it encourages you to keep moving. Move and the body will be happier. And when you're moving you can hike, run, swim in Jell-O, race over non-Newtonian fluids, travel the world or build igloos--if that's your thing. If not, you can watch me do it. This is just a spot to try and feel good about life.

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