Jordan 2010

More Roman ruins: the huge and intact theatre at Bosra

The Roman city ruins at Jerash

just before we crossed the border into Jordan, then the large city at Jerash which included a hippodrome or arena. Here, the climax was a horseman on a gorgeous Arab stallion which I was able to stroke and photograph. Included to give tourists a thrill; successful.

The main square in the Roman ruins at Jerash

The amphitheatre amidst the Roman ruins at Jerash

The Roman ruins at Jerash

Arab stallion in the Roman ruins at Jerash

Jordon has a very different feel about it: 99% Muslim (60% Palestinian, 39% Bedouin) and 1% Christian, it is rather more conservative than Syria or Lebanon. Here I wore a long shirt over my slacks, covering my arms and done up to my neck. Amman is a modern city perched over 21 steep hills with multi-lane main roads, fast food outlets and prices similar to ours. The traffic in Amman is fast, congested but polite and law-abiding. The countryside and city are free of garbage. Whereas Syria and Jordan, cities, towns, farms and desert, looked like one continuous garbage dump, Jordan would fit right in between Toronto and Hamilton.

One of the many hills of Amman

Arab caravanerserai in the eastern desert

Our guide in Jordan was 82-year old Faid, with 7 children, 18 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He is amazingly well educated and knowledgeable about Middle Eastern history but tended to give us rather too much information in less-than-clear English (my Dutch friends found him hard to understand and tended to drift off). Jordan provided several problems and difficulties for Kelly, our Djoser/Dutch coordinator. She handled these well with much discussion by the group — the Dutch are not shy about sharing their opinions. Such challenges included a sub-standard hotel (my room was the only one that was functional and clean — I kept quiet), double booking of our Red Sea boat cruise, and people leaving Petra early (except me, of course). Great advantage of not understanding the disgruntled chatter is that I can read the tone and atmosphere while retaining my own tranquil space inside my visual or audio book.

The Dead Sea and Israel from Jordan

The King's Highway above the Jordan Valley

The sub-standard hotel is emblematic of what I saw in the Middle East. Concept and enactment are well done but maintenance is a poorly understood concept. Also, the cleaning of the hotel rooms and much else is done by young men who, of course, were not taught to clean anything, let alone thoroughly, by their mothers, who do everything in the home. In Jordan, some women do work outside the home but not a lot.

Petra -- The three God Rocks near the entrance

The narrow entrance walkway into Petra

We visited desert forts (including many of the places that the controversial TE Lawrence inhabited, actual or purported), the relatively new capital city of Amman, the Dead Sea, the King’s Highway along the north-south ridge of mountains that separates the Jordan River valley from the eastern desert of Jordan and Saudi Arabia, various church mosaics and Crusader castles, Wadi Rum with sleeping in the desert and riding a camel (hypnotic and very Zen/now, real time instead of the fast forward pace that we tend to live in our city lives), Aqaba (tourist town with a drop dead gorgeous cruise boat captain who joined a few of us later for a beer and told us stories of his adventures with lovely tourist young women and visiting Israel — his parents were from Bethlehem, Palestine), and the site on the now miserable little River Jordan where John The Baptist threw water over JC before each of them were murdered in grizzly fashion.

The Treasury temple carved into the sandstone of Petra

Lea standing atop one of the mountain ridges above Petra

Then there was Petra, the huge Nabatian city (people originally from Yemen who incorporated Greek and Roman building styles and city life-styles) set inside sandstone mountains with narrow access. Many of the temples and graves are carved into the hillsides. Amazing, breathtaking, and filled with tourists even at 6:30 am. Also hot and exhausting. I think I walked about 20 km with much of this climbing up or down stairways. Was I fit or what?

One of the many funerary complexes carved into the sandstone in Petra

The dramatic colours of the sandstone within Petra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset over Petra

 

Sunset over the Red Sea at Aqaba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I flew back to Amsterdam with the group to be met by Gerard and Siska, friends from our Egyptian tour.

Gerard & Siska, my wonderful hosts and friends in Holland

Three wonderful days of sharing travel experiences, driving around this remarkable little country and visiting an art gallery and a museum that informed me about Holland – so interesting and enjoyable.

Back to Winnipeg and work. An excellent trip – enjoyable and interesting, friendships and informative, companionship and alone time, good books and timely podcasts, an excellent diversion amidst my busyness at work. And a good thing too as the music scene in Winnipeg is so rich, diverse and engaging this winter that I will be staying here. Also Aesops is now rather too busy so I have advertised for an associate. Somewhat to my surprise, I have had two serious replies, one of which may result in a partnership – we’ll see.

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