A Travellerspoint blog

Jordan

AQABA FAREWELL

Final memories

sunny 75 °F

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We have left Aqaba, the site of many adventures. We send a few photos:
1). Our toothpaste purchase. Since our Arabic is nonexistent, we were very happy to find find the familiar Colgate logo. Looking closer, we discovered that this is Herbal toothpaste. The herbs? Chamomile, eucalyptus, sage, and myrrh. At least there is no gold and frankincense.
2). The town and gorgeous mountains from our veranda, complete with mosque.
3). The mosque close up.
4). The signs forbidding us to enter the mosque.
5). Another of our favorite signs.

Adieu to Jordan. We now head for the Gulf of Suez and the Canal.

Posted by HopeEakins 05:07 Archived in Jordan Comments (1)

WADI RUM, JORDAN

A ride on the moon

sunny 70 °F

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Suleyman, taxi driver and phone finder, now our new best friend, took us to Wadi Rum, a huge desert in southern Jordan. Huge means 280 square miles, some of it gorgeous, some of it eerie. All the movies about Mars have been made here. You can see some of the odd rock formations in the photos, like the ram's head at the prow of a boat shape. You cannot see the colors, stripes of green (copper), red (iron), and various yellows and browns, all shimmering as sunset approaches. Occasionally you spot a Bedouin goat-hair tent (which does not look like it comes from L.L. Bean) and a jerry-rigged sheep/camel pen. Sometimes the Bedouins open their tents to visitors and offer camel rides and tea and local crafts. In one tent they were labeled in English. Do you need any "bitter melon if knees"?

We made two fascinating stops, one at a cave where T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia) stopped on his way to Aqaba during the Arab Revolt of 1917-18. The other was to view Nabatean petroglyphs of camels carved to delineate a trade route, still distinct after 2-3000 years.

Posted by HopeEakins 14:14 Archived in Jordan Comments (2)

PETRA, JORDAN

A report from Bill

sunny 75 °F

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Hope, still hampered by lingering effects of food poisoning many weeks ago, wisely stayed behind in Aqaba, while I made the two-hour journey by bus to explore once again the ruins of Petra. The Nabateans, an ancient Arab kingdom that prospered in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC by their control of the trade routes of much of the Middle East, established Petra as their capital. The city then lay abandoned for almost 1500 years until its ruins were uncovered in 1815 by the explorer Thomas Burckhardt.

It is no wonder that Petra was for a centuries a forgotten city. It lies tucked away in a canyon in the Jordanian wilderness, its sole entrance, the siq, a narrow passage between towering sandstone cliffs around 100 feet high. The contrast between this dark passage and the first glimpse of Petra’s huge classical buildings carved out of pink and red sandstone baked in sunlight could not be more dramatic.

Our small tour group from the ship had the benefit of a local archeologist-guide who has studied Petra for many years, but even for him this city holds many mysteries. On of the mysteries is the disconnect between the outside and the inside of Petra’s architecture. The exteriors are all monumental and elaborately carved, while the interiors seem to be little more than shallow underground caves.

After wandering as far as the ruins of the vast Roman-style theater, I began to feel exhausted and decided to leave the group and begin the long walk back to civilization. After an uphill climb back through the siq, I emerged into the sunlight to find a man who asked me if I wanted a horse to ride the final half-mile back to the entrance gate. I uttered a grateful, “Yes, how much?” “No charge, sir, horse included with ticket.” So I boosted myself up into the saddle and was led off for my rid. After some minutes came the first sign of trouble. “Where’s your ticket, sir?” I showed it to him. “That is wrong ticket. You need one with picture of horse.” “That’s not what I was told by my guide.” No response, and we plodded on until we got to the gate and with great effort, I dismounted. “You pay me $400, sir.” “No way. All I will give you is a generous tip.” I then gave him $20. “That’s not enough. I have a family with two children. Give me $40.” I gave him, another $10 and walked away as quickly as my weary legs could take me.

Sometimes it’s tough being a tourist.

Posted by HopeEakins 13:25 Archived in Jordan Comments (0)

AQABA, JORDAN

A splendid place

sunny 76 °F

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The north end of the Red Sea looks like bunny ears. The one on the left is the Gulf of Suez; the one on the right is the Gulf of Aqaba. Jordan is landlocked save for a little bit of coastline at the very end of that gulf where the seaport of Aqaba (pop. 150,000) sits. Aqaba is a beautiful little town nestled in beside a wall of mountains. It is growing and filled with attractive new construction (luxury hotels and King Hussein's southern palace), but Jordan approaches new construction quite differently from Saudi Arabia. Jordan seems meticulous about preserving ancient sites while combining/interweaving/ melding them with fitting new structures. The combination and the sparkling clean parks and streets is winning. And they do have a big flagpole too (seems to be the thing in the Middle East).

The FIRST, the very first purpose built Christian church is here, dating to 293, before Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The Bishop of Ayla (as Aqaba was called) was present at the Council of Nicea! The church was excavated in the late 1990's, when coins and glass lamps were unearthed. This is indeed a holy place.

Here is another reason Hope LOVES Jordan and Aqaba. She toured in a taxi with another couple (Bill is in Petra) and saw the city and shopped for local crafts and took many photos and got back to the ship tired, had lunch, worked on a slide show on Holy Sepulchre, and three hours later couldn't find her phone. Panic. She probably left it in the taxi. She raced off the ship to the pier and found the taxi drivers (Suleyman and his brother) waiting patiently with her phone. Alleluia! And praise Allah too!

Posted by HopeEakins 13:42 Archived in Jordan Comments (2)

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