Mad About Madaba

Wadi Rum Travel Blog

 › entry 15 of 15 › view all entries
The trail at Jebel Rum

The final day.  We woke up feeling a bit caught up with sleep, but still suffering from a lack of motivation.  One very full day remained – my flight departed at 1:40AM and Mark’s at 3:15AM – but we had been thoroughly overwhelmed by getting to know Jordan and somewhat anxious to return home to our families.

 

Over breakfast we decided we should return to Rum and do the hike we wanted to yesterday before it got too hot.  So we checked out after extracting a promise that we could come back and shower around lunch time.  Back in Rum we picked up the trail around Jebel Rum that begins right behind the Rum Rest House and was supposed to lead past Nabatean ruins to an oasis teeming with mint.

 

After proceeding along the trail a bit with nary a sight of any Nabatean ruins, we came across a local family who had driven down in their 4WD and were enjoying a picnic brunch.

Farther along the Jebel Rum trail
  Though they didn’t speak any English, we just expressed ‘Nabatean’ after exchanging greetings and the husband motioned for us to follow him.  He led us to a boulder which had etched characters that were similar to those we had seen in Petra (clearly not Thamudic inscriptions).  He patted one at the top and uttered “here”.  Then he worked his way down the boulder, patting each character and exclaiming “here” over and over.  There was one last “here” as he got to the bottom, whereupon he patted the ground and said loudly “GOLD!” and grinned ear to ear.  It was a very funny moment and one that will stay with me as a reminder of how friendly everyone was.

 

We returned to the trail and followed it back to where the mint oasis was, chasing a lot of lizards and butterflies on our way.

Wadi Rum
  The mint filled the air and was tremendously refreshing, but already we could sense the temperature rising towards the unbearable and doubled back.  After showering at Bait Ali we returned to the Desert Highway for the three-to-four hour drive north towards the airport.

 

Mark was driving and I scoured our guide to find something to fill the last few hours.  We toyed with the notion of venturing into Amman for a bit, but grappling with all the traffic of a big city seemed too intense to wrap up an adventure that had been thoroughly rural so far.  It eventually occurred to me that the single item we hadn’t satisfied from the original itinerary was visiting St. George’s church in Madaba to see the Mosaic Map.  As I tried to get better coordinates on exactly where the heck the church was, I discovered that one of the best restaurants in all of Jordan was located a mere 100 meters away.

Wadi Rum
  So back to Madaba it was!

 

We switched positions as we neared Madaba and I did a u-turn on the Desert Highway when so instructed by signs to Madaba.  Then it was one last gas station stop since we only had to return the rental car half full.  I recommend keeping topped off whenever you have the chance in Jordan – gas stations were few and far between, always full service (and oddly enough, all of the attendants we talked with were from Egypt).  However, we drove the other way for a little and never saw another sign to turn off for Madaba, so we decided to bushwhack

 

This was the first time we had really strayed from main thoroughfares and as crappy as we thought the roads had been, they were relative super-highways compared to the back roads.

The mint oasis at Jebel Rum
  Narrow, twisty and plagued with goats and donkeys, this was a real treat.  Particularly perilous was going through a small village where there would be speed bumps that weren’t marked.  After stopping to ask locals at various points for Madaba, we made Madaba in good time.    Even better, our master plan was to just park once downtown and strike out on foot, rather than go round and round.

 

A great plan.  Our respect for Madaba grew appreciably because on foot you get to peek into the many shops and it is considerably less hassle than driving.  Pinned down the church with little trouble and plunked down one dinar apiece to get in.  We spent considerable time digesting the Mosaic map, confirming that it had accurately depicted so many details about the Middle East fifteen hundred years ago.

View along hike at Jebel Rum

 

Our eyes had been opened to the attractions of Madaba and next we went to the Archaeological Museum two blocks away.  Here was a magnificent collection of mosaics displayed amidst Roman ruins in the heart of downtown (entry here was two dinar each, but gets you into two other places if you don’t start as close to closing time as we did).

 

When the museum shut down at 6PM we walked over to Haret Jdoudna, the touted restaurant.  The accolades were well deserved.  A tasteful and elegant setting which blends Ottoman and Roman themes, Mark and I sat down for our first non-buffet meal since the Dead Sea Panoramic a week ago.  We both ordered the filet Sarayana for entrees, with me supplementing the main choice with red lentil soup, Mark with hot spinach mezza.  Everything was delectable, including the hot popovers served for bread.  If you want to enjoy a first class meal in Jordan at a price that is more than reasonable, please check out Haret Jdoudna in Madaba!

 

After dinner it was time to head for the airport.  Traffic in Madaba was nuts, which made me glad we didn’t go to Amman, but we made the airport without any problems around 9PM.  We discovered that our departing flights were in the same terminal, but they wouldn’t let you in until three hours before your flight (the ticket counters are inside the terminals and they don’t open up until then), so we parked at a coffee stand and got the cards out for the final Spite & Malice tournament.

 

The luck I had gained from smoking shi-sha persisted and I won honors for the Queen Alia Airport.  We broke off the card games around 11:30 when it was two hours before my flight – of course Mark still had to wait another forty five minutes before he could follow.  Mark actually had a bit more of a wait getting into the terminal, meeting back up with me only ten minutes before my flight boarded.  This was still enough time for me to spend my last ten dinars on a couple of Heinekens to toast a grand adventure.

 

So now I am wrapping this journal up in Paris as I wait for my flight back to the States, and it occurs to me that I will be arriving in Philadelphia.  Philadelphia was a former name for Amman, one of many things I learned about the fascinating country of Jordan.  The entire education was thanks to coming across some pictures of Petra somewhere. Those pictures turned me on to some great discoveries and reinforced my belief that if we take the time to meet our neighbors, we may come to know that they are friends.

nanie05 says:
Wow!! Loved your blog!!Absolutely inspiring!!
Posted on: Mar 05, 2010
nush675 says:
The red lentil soup and spinach mezza sounds really appetizing to the vegetarian me. But certainly, I would like to savor all of it someday - the sights, sounds, food,...of Jordan.
A cool journal, indeed!
Posted on: Dec 11, 2007
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
The trail at Jebel Rum
The trail at Jebel Rum
Farther along the Jebel Rum trail
Farther along the Jebel Rum trail
Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum
The mint oasis at Jebel Rum
The mint oasis at Jebel Rum
View along hike at Jebel Rum
View along hike at Jebel Rum
Wadi Rum
photo by: vances