Friday, October 30, 2015

Aqaba, Jordan, October 30.2015

We each had our own room last night-

The bed was filled with sand, but I realized this morning that there were two sheets so maybe if I'd slept between the sheets it would have been better.  The blanket weighed 500 pounds and mosquitoes chewed at me all night.  Needless to say, I had a shitty sleep.

Our group was in this part of the camp.  The walls were made of canvas but we did have power, at least for part of the night-

15 of us have been travelling around Jordan for the past week in this sardine can.  Our driver was very fast and the air conditionning worked really well-

Just passing by-

Once arriving in Aqaba, we went snorkeling at two great spots.  I saw a big puffer fish that our guide picked up, lots of coral and many, many fish.  

Saudi Arabia is in the background-

The border between Israel and Palestine-

From where we were snorkeling, we could see Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Palestine and Israel.  Pretty cool. We're back to Amman tomorrow.  

Wadi Rum, Jordan, October 29, 2015

Wadi Rum is a red sand desert-

with camel caravan petroglyphs in the sandstone cliffs made by tribes from Southern Arabia or possibly the Nabataeans around the 4th century BC-

Our group traveled in the back of half tons.  I found it to be a little chilly-

but the scenery was excellent-

We crawled up on top of these rock bridges-

There are miles and miles of sand and mountains-

We kept seeing the same group of camels so I don't know if they were staged or not.  Apparently camels can go for 50 days without water-

Our drivers were interested in something on a cell phone-

Later, they lit a fire-

for tea while we waited for-

Back at camp, we had zerb, a Bedouin tradition, for supper.  Carrots, potatoes, lamb and chicken were placed on a tiered rack, inserted into a hole in the ground and roasted for 4-5 hours.  The chicken bones were very tiny so I'm not sure what kind of bird it might have been but it tasted good-

Tomorrow, we're off to Aqaba for a boat ride and snorkeling in the Red Sea.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Petra, Jordan, October 28, 2015

Petra (rock in Greek) is a Nabataean (an Arabian people who from 312 BC had an independent kingdom here) city, carved out of pink sandstone.  It's a pretty amazing place.  After buying the entrance ticket, which costs $93 Canadian, we walked 1.2 km down the Siq to get to the main attraction-

  The Siq is the 'entrance'  with 200 meter high walls-

During the Nabataean period, potable and non potable water was available via small channels cut into the walls.  Non potable was not covered and potable was-

The Obelisk Tomb and Bab as Siq is a funerary symbol from the 1st century.  The 4 obelisk and 1 human figure probably represent the 5 people buried here-

About 30,000 people lived here at one time.

Continuing along the Siq, there's a carving of a camel and a caravan man-

The Nabataean were smart, creating a writing system, building dams, water channels and cisterns as well as fabulous buildings such as the Treasury-

The urn at the top of the Treasury was thought to be filled with gold so it's been shot at a lot-

The Treasury is carved out of sandstone and was a tomb for the Nabataean King - Aretas III (100 BC - 200 AD).  We climbed up to see it from a different viewpoint-

Back down, the Street of Facades has over 40 tombs-

The colors in the rock are amazing-

The theatre holds about 8500 and was carved by the Nabataenas, not the Romans in 106 AD-

The Urn Tomb is a Royal tomb built in 70 AD for King Malichos II-

but there are many other tombs along the way-

With the shift in trade routes by 106 AD, the Romans took over and this is evident in the architecture here with a colonnade street-

and columns at the Great Temple of Petra-

After earthquakes in 363 and 551 AD, the city was ruined and forgotten.  Only local Bedouin lived here-

but 30 years ago, they were moved and given modern housing so they no longer have to live in caves.  Home is now in the village in the background-

 They are the donkey and camel owners, as well as the souvenir stand hawkers.  I had tea with these Bedouin women-

The Byzantine Church was expanded in 530 AD.  The mosaics are exceptional-

Donkeys and camels are available for hire and do they stink-

They are so weird, the way they slink along.  They don't really have hooves, more like slippers that flatten out when they put weight on their feet.  Also, when they are laying down, their knees bend underneath them.  It looks very uncomfortable-

The Monastery is another long hike up 800 stairs!  It's 50 m wide and 45 m high.  It was built in the 3rd century and is a Nabataean tomb-

Walking down from the monastery the views are sensational-

Garage parking in Petra-

A Blue Sinai Agama lizard-

I paid $2.70 for this coke-

Marguerite von Geldermalsen, a Kiwi, came to Petra in 1978 and fell in love with a Bedouin (they look like Jack Sparrow).  She wrote Married to a Bedouin (now on my Kindle) and her son manages her booth-

Today was a huge day.  We left the hotel at 6 am and I returned at 4 pm.  Zuhair, our guide, said we'd be walking 25 km and it felt like all of that!  In spite of the 3000 or so stairs, the worst part was the 3 km, all slightly uphill, through the Siq back to the entrance.

Supper was mensaf- lamb on rice and then a dish of liquidy yogurt is poured over everything.  I didn't really like it because I'm not too in to rice but it's a specialty of the area-

I'm looking forward to Wadi Rum, a jeep ride in the desert and sleeping in a Bedouin hut tomorrow!


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mount Nebo, Madaba and Karak Jordan, October 27, 2015

Mount Nebo is where Moses went to see the Promised Land and where he died at age 120.  The view is towards Gilead, Judah, Jericho and the Negez (a region in south Israel)-

Mount Nebo became an important pilgrimage site for Christians because of Moses. The mosaics date from 530 AD depicting hunting scenes and daily life-

A Roman mile marker was used to show direction for the pilgrims coming from Jerusalem and Jericho via the Jordan River to visit the Moses Spring Sanctuary.  It dates from 213 AD-

It's olive harvesting time-

They taste very bitter!

The views along the King's Highway are great.  The Wadi (Valley) Mujib is enormous-

Limestone erosion-

In Madaba, one third of the population is Christian and two thirds are Muslim.  They get along just fine. 

The mosaic on the floor of St. George's Church in Madaba is a map of the Holy Land and dates to 324 AD during the Christian Byzantine period-

Rowing across the Dead Sea-

Lunch was kibbeh (bulgar wheat, minced onion, ground lamb, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice) - super good and arak-the Jordanian version of ouzo-

I love this mug-

Muslim barbie dolls-

The Karak Castle (1142-1188 AD) dates to Crusader times when Europeans tried to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims.  They fought the Islamic armies of Saladin.  Later on, the Mamluk (1263-1517 AD) added on-

There are arrow slits in all directions.  The archer stood protected inside the wall and had room to pull his bow.  Enemy arrows couldn't get in the narrow slits-

Roman arches are round and Islamic arches are pointed-

The castle was built in a hurry, with materials pillaged from all over.  There are different colors of stone and chunks of columns used in the walls-

Along the way to Petra, the land is flat, red and very dry.  There are few villages, people or animals around-

It's an early 6 am start tomorrow to walk the 25 km of Petra!  Sure glad it's going to be a cool day!