Jordan Travel Blog› entry 4 of 4 › view all entries
July 3rd, 2009 – by: nikicole82
Continually, I strive to fathom how this country can feel more like home than the place I grew up in surrounded by family.
As I pass through customs and head down the narrow escalator to baggage claim, I am greeted by a smiling face that makes the long journey disappear. There stands one of the greatest people I have ever had the privilege to know. A quick embrace and kiss on the cheek - thus to avoid speculation - we instantly release each other and head over to claim my luggage and off through security and out into the warm desert evening where we drive the precarious streets towards Amman and our much needed visit.
Jordan - a country all too frequently overlooked because of it's location in the world. It is unfortunately associated with a negative stigma of being in the "Middle East". The "Middle East" - a phrase that seems to almost be a curse in American society.
During my too short visit, I visit the main tourist destinations of this beautiful country with my friend. Amman holds many wonderful sights and places to visit. "Walking Street" in Shmeisani is quite trendy and gives a perfect opportunity for the younger generation to hang out and meet new people. A few years back this area was a road, and now has been closed off and made into a pedestrian area surrounded by shops and restaurants. The perfect occasion to socialize and people watch.
Amman is full of history - formerly called "Philadelphia" in biblical times this is an ancient land and peoples.
About 30 minutes away from Amman is Madaba and Mount Nebo where Moses raised the staff with the serpent and asked those who believed to look up. A short distance west from there are the shores of the Dead Sea. Just north of the Dead Sea is where Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. Across the River and the Sea, the lights of Palestine are visible. Unfortunately, there are a few check points in this area by the military where we were requried to show our ID. Whenever the military personnel saw I was American, they would welcome me with a genuine smile and the familiar "Ahlan wa Sahlan" bidding us passage to our destination.
We spent several occasions at the Dead Sea - sitting on the shores, eating, laughing, dancing, swimming, and enjoying the warm evening. Amman Beach is a popular destination for Jordanians. Many families will come to this beach and spend the night in various activities.
One of the more notable places in Jordan is Petra. Petra is a couple hours south of Amman in the canyons next to Wadi Musa. Wadi Musa is a beautiful town that overlooks the mountains of the ancient city of Petra. I stayed in the Amra Palace in Wadi Musa.
The following morning, we awoke and took a taxi to the entrance of Petra. Before reaching the Siq (essentially a passageway through the canyons) there is a short walk that passes by several ancient cliff dwellings.
The siq is gorgeous in its dramatic diversity. The Nabatean people carved beautiful etchings in various places of the passage. Most notably, there were water troughs cut into the cliff faces to catch rain water for the community. Petra - the Rose Red City - gets it's name from these rain waters that affect the colors of the rocks the city is carved into. Depending on the amount of precipitation that year, the hues of the terrain will be more robust or subdued.
The Siq is cool and serene on the hot summer day. Each bend unveils a new beauty.
After sheer exhaustion and several gallons of water, we make our way back to the main gates of the city where we board our bus to Wadi Rum.
Wadi Rum is a vast expanse of red desert and dramatic cliffs and buttes. The setting for T.E. Lawrence's base camp of operations during the Great Arab Revolt in the early 20th century, today it is home to many bedouins. Wadi Rum is resplendent in natural opportunities for the outoodrsman. Our tour allows us the opportunity to go four-wheeling through the desert. Incidentally, though, four-wheeling means jeeps and trucks - not an ATV. Camel rides are available, and short hikes to the top of a large butte to watch the setting sun over the serene expanse of desert. As dusk has fallen, we make our way down to the camp where we are treated to a traditional bedouin meal. In the states we call it dutch oven - where the food is cooked in a cast-iron pot with hot coals and set in the earth.
That evening we slept in tents under a sky littered with more stars than I ever recall in my life.
The following morning we awoke to board our buses and make the hour and half journey to Aqaba - the southern port on the Red Sea which shares a border with Israel - which means, checkpoints.
We decide to take an excursion on a "glass-bottom boat". The journey entails a three hour tour through the lustrous coral that's reputation has preceded it to all corners of the globe. The ship has viewing holes in the hull so that the passengers can watch the aquatical wildlife in pleasant accommodation.
After the tour, we spend a brief time in the local markets - stocking up on cashews and various nuts that I have never found the equal of. Perfectly grown and seasoned, they are the finest I have ever tasted with their warm robust flavor exploding in our mouths. After some shopping we stop for lunch at Ali Baba restaurant - known for it's seafood.
The following day, after a long rest, we travel to Jerash - a short 30 minute drive North from Amman. Jerash is part of the ancient decapolis, and the most extensive and preserved of all the cities. Jerash is quite impressive with ruins and ancient temples. The colonnaded and cobble-stoned streets are picturesque and fascinating with the intricate carvings and visible cross walks and underground waterways. In July, there are concerts and chariot races complete with gladiator re-enactments.
Following Jerash, we travel into the mountains to Ajloun castle. Ajloun is one of the many desert castles of the country. It rests protectively high above the city and dates back to 1184 AD. From it's hilltop it provides the perfect viewpoint of the surrounding country and protected the communication routes from Southern Jordan and Syria. A beautiful fortress which has a wonderful vantage of the surrounding hills of Northern Jordan which is quite lush for the desert.
Following Ajloun, we travel to the village of Al Husn, a suburb of Irbid (one of the largest cities in Jordan).
We must leave Al Husn all too soon to head back to Amman, but the experience there will never depart from my heart or memory. On the way back, we stop at a restaurant just outside of Amman.
Jordan has much to offer and it left an impression on me so deep that nothing else can ever compare. My heart truly is in Jordan and has been from the first moment I was welcomed into this kingdom in 2006. I long for the day that I can return to my home and to the hearts of my friends and family that are there. Yes, there is much to see and do here, but of the incredible wonders of the world and the unforgettable history that is contained in the small borders of the Kingdom of Jordan that I was able to view and be a part of for such a small portion of time - none left more of an impression than the people of this land.
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