Day 17: Trip to Umm Quais, Ajlun and Jerash (1)
Amman Travel Blog› entry 27 of 54 › view all entries
Jordan is an odd country. Despite some 20,000 years of history the country itself hasn't existed for very long. After the Arab revolt (you know, with that Lawrence guy) Jordan was part of Syria for a while, but one Winston Churchill thought it would be better to create a separate Transjordan state. Transjordan comprised of present day Jordan as well as the West Bank in the Palestinian territories. After WWII the state of Israel was created and that was the end of relative peace. Jordan's population doubled in 1948 after after the exodus of the Palestinian people, seeking refuges in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
The six-day war in 1967 saw Jordan lose the entire West Bank, and got even more refugees in return. It should not come as a surprise that this country has been completely changed by the huge influx of refugees.
The explosive growth of the population and the short history as independent state have resulted in an almost complete lack of infrastructure. Basically there are only two cities, Amman, the capital (went from 30,000 to 1.7 million inhabitants in less than 60 years) and Aqaba in the south. For the rest there are only villages, many of them founded by Palestinian groups, while others have existed for hundreds of years.
The roads in the country are good, but public transportation is almost entirely lacking. There's just one regular long distance bus route, from Amman to Aqaba, but for the rest you are entirely dependentg on mini buses (with a lot of changing) or tourist transport.
The hotel we were staying in, the Palace Hotel (another original name) organised excursions. Although... excursions... it was mainly the same as we had had in Hama with Omar, just a driver and a car. However, Jordan is slightly more expensive than Syria, and here they were charging more than double! So this is not something you'll easily do alone or with just two people, so they try to book other people on the same tour to fill up the car - hence the name 'excursion'.
We had put ourselves down for three tours, and the first one with enough participants was a trip to Umm Quais and Jerash, both in the north of Jordan, near the Syrian border.
Our travel buddies were a David from Australia, Dana from France and a lady from the Czech republic whose name I can't remember - quite a mixed company.