Jordan

Jordan Travel Blog

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St. George Church, Madaba, Mt. Nebo
As the plane begins it descent into Amman, my heart begins to beat faster. The welcoming green lights of the minarets seem to twinkle hello's to me as the jet draws closer to Queen Alia. I can barely contain my excitement as I fidget in my unnaturally small dungeon - yearning to be free after 14 hours of confinement. Longing to step out of the breezeway and smell the dank aroma of the airport that is the portal to my heart and home. At long last, the plane gallops across the runway...I can't believe it has been a year since my last visit to this enchanting country.
Continually, I strive to fathom how this country can feel more like home than the place I grew up in surrounded by family.
Mt. Nebo
Here - in Jordan - I find sincere friendship everywhere I go.
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.
Argila pipe in the light of the Amman skyline
The thought of traveling there is only associated with going to war - or to Israel. Why would one imagine it as a tourist destination? These pessimistic attitudes are far too prevalent and detrimental to the treasure that Jordan is. And even further, linked to an almost evil karma that the people in the region surely are terrorists. The truth of this divine country is far more beautiful than mere words can explain. Especially words as plain as those in the English language. Jordan glistens with culture, character, and social beauty. The mosques are decadent in their simplistic design, making it almost unbearable to merely drive by. The history of this country is opulent. The culture is almost romantic in the beauty it holds. But above all this...the people are not only physically gorgeous, but who they are is breath-taking.
Cliffs of Petra
Fortunately,  I have the honor of calling so many Arabs friend. But more than friend, I consider them family. Never have I met a people more open and hospitable. More full of humor and a willingness to accommodate and give all they have to ensure your happiness.
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.
Cliffs of Petra
Many of them  have not moved from this area since the time their ancestors were originally born there back in  the times of the Old Testament. But for me, the true treasures lie outside of Amman.
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.
Excavation in front of the Treasury in Petra
A gesture that does not come so readily when an American is not present in the car.
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 Treasury, Petra
A lovely hotel with spectacular views of the city. The sunsets in this country are stunning as the the blazing orange orb melts into the horizon every night with the most brilliant orange and pink variations.  Watching this display over the mountains from my hotel in Wadi Musa is one of the more awe-inspiring images in my memory. I watched, unable to look away, as the sun disappeared behind the dramatic cliffs of this historic city. The air was filled with the somber sound of the muezzin echoing through the surrounding hills hypnotized me to the elegance I was lavished in.
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.
Cliffs of the Siq
The tourist industry is prevalant here. You can pay to ride a horse, donkey to the entrance of the Siq. Or for the more "relaxed" experience, you can  hire the horse-drawn buggy to take you all the way to the Treasury at the end of the Siq.
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.
The Siq
At long last, we round a bend, and there through a ribbon-like opening is a glimpse of the renowned Treasury. Tourists are huddled yearning to get the perfect snapshot of this bucket-list view.  Journeying through to a full view of the Treasury leaves all speechless at the sheer magnificence of this edifice. The wonder of Petra is how vast it is. There is more to see than can be contained in a few hours visit to this ancient wonder. Emptying bottle after bottle of water, we journey through this sandy attraction. The sun rising ever higher and growing increasingly unbearable. We wandered through dwellings, and amphitheaters, courts, and temples, homes and political gathering places. The wonders never cease to appear in this land and it is truly an experience worth venturing.
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

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.
Red Sea Coral
The dinner is wonderful and much needed after the exhausting day in the sun. After dinner, music is piped through the speakers of the tourist camp and the guests, renewed by the succulent dinner, join in dancing and merriment. Different variations of the dubka  are performed for countless hours as the talents of the Arab people are exhibited not for vanity or an attempt to show-off, but for pure enjoyment. There isn't a night in Jordan that would be complete without a few fireworks being set off. The reason? Well, when I asked my dear friend why there were always fireworks, he said "well, because they are happy and want to celebrate." I can see no better reason than this.
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.
Red Sea Coral
The glistening blue and turquoise waters of the Red Sea beckon us with the alley of palm trees stretching their fronds towards us in an effort to gently sweep us to the beautiful beaches and waters of the Sea.
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.
Red Sea Coral
Unfortunately, I am not one to eat fish, but I do fancy Mansaf - the traditional Jordanian dish. The food is perfect and hearty - as always in this beautiful country. After some more shopping and touristing, we meet our bus and board for the long journey back to Amman.
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.
Red Sea Coral
Unfortunately, I have not had the pleasure to witness this, but the city is memorable enough without these theatrics.
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).
Dubka at the Dead Sea
This is where my friend is from and where we will meet with his family. I cannot give his family the justice they deserve. In their humble surroundings they seem to be the most blessed and wealthy of people that I can imagine. They are the epitome of Arab hospitality, true love, and acceptance. Unfortunately, I cannot communicate well with them, but they welcome me with warm hugs and kisses, and genuine sincerity of my well-being. They usher me into their home and hearts. I will never forget that feeling of security and simplistic happiness and I wish everyone could experience this treasure at least once.
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.
Salt Deposits - Dead Sea
This restaurant is directly off the highway and offers beautiful views over the Jabrook River. It is a popular destination and should be experienced at sunset. The restaurant is situated perfectly that the setting sun can be viewed from your table as you enjoy wonderful Arab cuisine while listening to live entertainment.
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.
Me - on our way to the baptism site
The people that we so quickly dismiss and prejudice due to the color of their skin and the heritage of their birth - these people endure what most would consider a meager life. A life of poverty, extreme climatic elements, constant water shortages, political unrest surrounds them, refugees continue to flood their country - weakening the infrastructure of their society while increasing the poverty and limiting the natural resources even more exponentially than before. Most cannot even fathom a portion of this. Yet, the Arab people continue to open their arms, homes, and even more importantly, their hearts to anyone that casts a shadow on their doorstep. There is much to be learned from the Arab people. It is my hope that this world can open their minds and remove the barriers  that have been built by the not so accurate media reports and political close-mindedness that unfortunately seems to dictate the opinions of the people they report to.
Jordan River
We need to be individuals who support our country, but realize it is fallible, and we are allowed to have personal thought and opinions that have been formulated by personal study and experience rather than opinions that are told to us by those we have never met.
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St. George Church, Madaba, Mt. Nebo
St. George Church, Madaba, Mt. Nebo
Mt. Nebo
Mt. Nebo
Argila pipe in the light of the Am…
Argila pipe in the light of the A…
Cliffs of Petra
Cliffs of Petra
Cliffs of Petra
Cliffs of Petra
Excavation in front of the Treasur…
Excavation in front of the Treasu…
The Treasury, Petra
The Treasury, Petra
Cliffs of the Siq
Cliffs of the Siq
The Siq
The Siq
Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum
Red Sea Coral
Red Sea Coral
Red Sea Coral
Red Sea Coral
Red Sea Coral
Red Sea Coral
Red Sea Coral
Red Sea Coral
Dubka at the Dead Sea
Dubka at the Dead Sea
Salt Deposits - Dead Sea
Salt Deposits - Dead Sea
Me - on our way to the baptism site
Me - on our way to the baptism site
Jordan River
Jordan River
Jerash
Jerash
Moonlight on the Dead Sea
Moonlight on the Dead Sea
Friends at the Dead Sea
Friends at the Dead Sea
193 km (120 miles) traveled
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