Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kate (and Pam) On the Loose, Part 10: Jordan

My good friends, Kate and Pam, were in Jerusalem and Jordan before coming to Georgia. Kate started as a solo adventuress in Egypt. Kate and Pam met up in Jerusalem. From Kate's journal:

Petra, Jordan. Treasury Building. Photo credit: Kate
There are three crossing points between Israel and Jordan.  One is at Eilat in the south.  If you remember I crossed there with the Russian group leaving Egypt.  It took three hours in the middle of the night.  The crossing at Allenby Bridge requires a visa as it is the only point Palestinians can cross into Israel.  We crossed at the Jordan River crossing.  We expected it would take many hours but got through in one hour.  I had my story ready as the guide on the Russian tour said they might give me trouble since I said I would only stay in Israel one day-but they didn't even question me.

We then got a taxi for the four-hour drive down Kings Highway to Petra.  I slept all the way since I wasn't feeling well.  Pam conversed with the driver even though he had minimal English.  He made several calls to find us lodging in Petra.  We ended up with a perfectly located, reasonably priced hotel.  No problem.

The next day we went to the archeological site of Petra-truly one of the wonders of the world.  You enter through the Sig ( a narrow canyon with 100 ft rock walls on either side).  The rock walls are smooth and curved,  the rocks have layers of color - black, beige, red, pink, and gray.  In the 1960s there was a torrential rain which caused a flash flood.  The flood drowned several French nuns.  After that the Swiss built a series of small trap dams in the walls to prevent future flooding.

Many nations have participated in the excavation and maintenance of this treasured site.  After walking through the Sig for 20 minutes you turn a corner and there is the Treasury Building. An imposing red rock building carved into the face of a mountain.  ( I will send a picture under separate cover) There are many other temples, tombs, and structures in this large complex.  The complex was built by the Nabateans in the 6th century.  Did I mention it was very hot and dusty and we walked and walked.  There were cute Bedouin children offering rides on horses, donkeys, camels and horse drawn carriages.  We rode everything but a camel.  I did mention it was hot didn't I.

We talked with several handsome young bedouin men as we had a cold drink.  When they found out we had beautiful daughters one man said "bring them here I will marry them-his friends said you are already married, he replied, no problem".  They live in cave homes 30 minutes from Petra and commute by donkey.  The caves have tv, computer, and lights all powered by a generator.

We bought a two day pass to Petra and even though we were exhausted after the first day we went for the second day.  By the end of the second day I said I cannot walk the twenty minutes out of the Sig.  The problem was we had spent all our money.  I said we'll get in a carriage and deal with no money when it's time to pay.  So we did.  At the end of the ride I told the driver we had no money but if he would wait we'd go to the ATM.  He put us on horses and we rode to the ATM.  Of course we had to pay for that ride also.  No matter.

The next day we went to Wadi Musa, a nature preserve of rocky mountains banked by sand dunes and vast expanse of barren desert.  It is a stark but awesome landscape.  I celebrated Easter in this wonderful creation of God.  Pam had booked us a two day one night tour owned by two Bedouin brothers.  We traveled in the back of a pickup truck with a covering for shade.  We toured for about four hours.  At one point our driver (a Bedouin dressed in a white gown with a red and white headress-very striking and handsome) said now you get out and walk, I will go ahead and prepare lunch.  So we did, walking for 30 minutes.  Did I mention it was hot and dusty here too!   At one point there was a fork in the sandy path.

Pam chose the way and got us there safely.  The guide had spread a woven mat for us to sit on, gathered some twigs for a fire and made us tea.  They do love tea flavored with sage or mint.

The camp we stayed over night at had about 15 tents set up. We slept on cots and it had a dirt floor.  The tents were covered in a goat hair material.  There were bathrooms (western style- not Turkish- I'm too old to squat - I can get down but getting up is a big problem- perhaps too much information.  Also a dining and lounging area.  Dinner was a Bedouin BBQ,  chicken and veggies baked in a metal tub in ground covered with sand.  It was delicious and accompanied with many salads.

After dinner the men played the lute and sang and danced.  The sky was filled with many bright stars.  The next morning I rode a camel for two hours back to the visitor center.  Enjoyed the ride very much, the trick is to relax and go with the jostling as opposed to riding a horse where you try to sit erect.  Oh well, I didn't fall off and the camel didn't spit at me.

Next onto Aqaba by taxi.  Pam booked us into a charming beachside hotel with a swimming pool and terrace.  We enjoyed the luxury.  I don't think I mentioned it but during one of our many taxi rides the driver gave Pam a nice massage of her hand and fingers. She said it helped with the bit of arthritis in her hands.

I was feeling a bit neglected but at the hotel near the pool I asked an older man something, after answering my question, he said sit down.  He then proceed to message my head, earlobes, and shoulders.-very nice.  I can't imagine this happening in the USA but when in Jordan do as the Jordanians do.

On to Tel Aviv and the flight to Georgia!


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