We drove through the desert of Israel and then Jordan. It was up hill and down hill the entire way. Entry into Jordan takes time, about one and a half hours, but soon we were on our way through the arid and rocky hills of Jordan. Jordan is the third water restricted country in the world. Its green valley would look like a drought area anywhere else, with no hope of ever getting greener. The wealth of the Kingdom of Jordan comes from the export of phosphate and tourism. The tourists flock to Jarash and Petra.
On Friday, we went directly to Jarash, the largest Roman ruin outside Italy. Hadrian’s Gate, the northern entry to the city, is impressive. We did not see much to impress us as we passed through the gate, but then, wow! The ancient city ruin grew and grew as we walked. The hippodrome (horse races), the theatre, the cardo (Main Street from which we get the word for heart)—lined as far as the eye could see with columns, the central gate, the city plaza lined with columns, the southern gate and numerous buildings and more columns… it was amazing!
We continued our journey southward and wonderful mountains appeared around Amman, the capital of the Kingdom. Driving further south, the mountains became barren, yet hauntingly beautiful with rounded tops, something like camel humps. As darkness fell, we saw the mountains adorned with lantern lights from top to bottom. What a welcome to our Bedouin Camp where we were to sleep for the night! We had entered another world. Desert tents in brown and white stripes and rock pathways lined with lanterns led to our evening abode. It was simple pleasure, experiencing what for centuries was everyday life for many in the Middle East. There was no wi-if, and electricity went off at midnight. Our king-sized bed was covered with six blankets to keep us warm in the cold desert air. Our restroom was close by but not in the tent. The small room was colorful, red design cloth over canvas. A durable rug covered the rocky surface below. We closed our eyes in restful sleep, hoping we did not awake in order to go to the restroom. No such luck.
Saturday found us awake by 6 am and a trip to the restroom area to prepare for the day. Only cold water in the morning. We dressed quickly and went for breakfast. On to Petra for the entire day! Petra is much more than the famous Treasury, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. If Jarash was more than impressive, Petra was over the top! It was worth the six miles we walked to see this capital of the Nabataean Empire, and we did not see it all. The Sig, a narrow passage way through the mountains, was colorful and wonderful, with burial tombs and pagan worship nitches along the way. The rocks swirled with red, brown and grey colors. Then, through the narrow passage ahead we caught a glimpse of the Treasury. The heart pounds! The closer we came, the more immense this multi-tiered cut into the stone face of the cliff building became. We sat for some time taking it in. Designed to welcome people to the heart of the city, the Treasury reflected Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Nabataean architectural styles. Walking further, we observed the city buildings carved into the rock. It was wow after wow! Amazingly, the Nabataean culture left nothing of the homes, but much about the tombs. This is because they did not value as highly this life as they did the hereafter. So they built elaborate tombs hoping to take it all with them.
We have been historically refreshed this day, feeling blessed beyond measure to have experienced this day—honestly, every day is a gift of God! Now to our tent! WEG