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Posts Tagged ‘Jordan’

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“The most beautiful people I’ve known are those who have known trials, have known struggles, have known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.” ― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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Another early start saw us on our way to the Cairo airport. Once again Mel and I seemed to attract the security guards and we went through the mandatory luggage check and then the pat down by some fierce looking female guards. No arguments here but my cheeks were sore trying not to smile, I didn’t think they would appreciate it. So, with a great deal of eye rolling from the rest of the group we finally made our way to the check in counter. I was beginning to think that they thought we were doing something to attract this unwanted attention. With bulging suitcases we definitely didn’t want our bags rummaged through every time we went to the airports.

A short flight later we were landing at the Amman airport, Jordan. Our arrival was met by a tour official and we were shepherded to the Amman Marriott Hotel. It was a nice easy day after the hustle and bustle at the end of our Egyptian leg and we made the most of catching up in the Business centre and grabbing a little rest.

Breakfast was bright and early the next day and we met our guide for this part of the trip. He was as different as he possibly could be from our guides in Israel and Egypt. His English was, to say the least, a trial as we strained to understand what he was saying. From his attitude I wondered if he had just wandered into town from the hills. He appeared more at home with the bus driver than his passengers, in fact we appeared to be unwelcome cargo.

Our first stop was at the Roman ruins in Jerash. It was an amazing sight. The Colosseum was almost intact and mock gladiator fights and chariot races were held throughout the day. You simply had to pay extra to see them – after you had paid to get into the site of course. Yet the scope of the ruins was enormous. You could easily visualise an entire city, and walking through the almost immaculate streets you could feel the size of the place. Thus was no small village but a thriving metropolis. Our guide waxed lyrical about the aqueducts in the streets and the sewage system tunnels, still able to operate. The heat was oppressive and there was no shade. People began huddling in the slight shade from the tall columns along the colonnade.

Amazingly there was lush green grass on the hillsides all around. It was a luxuriant emerald green with wildflowers sprinkled throughout. At the top of the nearby hill was a fenced enclosure with towers built along its length. Soldiers carrying weapons could be seen slowly patrolling the perimeter. It was another reminder that we were close to the border and as carefree as the ruins made you feel, real life was a heartbeat away with the torpid heat.

Leaving Jerash before we were all desiccated we retraced our ‘steps’ and headed for Petra, at the other end of Jordan. Why this strange route? We never found out, but a frantic rush ensued to reach Petra by nightfall. Once again we wondered why, until we were closer to our destination and the roads degenerated in quality. We definitely didn’t want to be broken down in the middle of ‘nowhere’. There was a collective sigh of relief as we finally pulled into the Hotel in Wadi Musa. It was time for a quick meal and an early night before the famous Petra Treasury tomorrow.

The next day dawned bright and hot. Sunscreen was applied by the truckload, although we were told it would be different once we reached the entrance to the treasury. Sand puffed up around our feet as we slowly walked across to the walk down to the mountain. Rejecting the pull of an easy donkey ride down we decided to leave that luxury for our exhausted return.  The heat was, for me, oppressive. We walked down the hill towards the Siq, the entrance through the mountain. It did nothing to prepare us for the sights once we entered Siq, the narrow cleft in the mountain.

The mountains seemed to flow like waves, with each rippled wave a different colour. The best times to see the mountains and Treasury are early morning and dusk as the sandstone picks up the sun’s rays and reflects these wonderful colours back at you. The Siq is 1.2km in length, formed by the mountain splitting and there really are only poet’s words to do justice to the magnificent sight, or photos!

Almost at the end of the Siq we could see the impressive Treasury, seen in Indiana Jones. It is a breathtaking sight. It towers over the surroundings and dwarfs mere humans with its presence. Apart from an almost unidentifiable muttering we had no introduction from our guide so we joined the crush of people entering the Treasury. Inside the Treasury, we could see the room built as the tomb of Nabataean King Aretas III.

We learned more from other guides as we wandered around than from our erstwhile goatherd. Yes, he told us he had come down from the country to guide tourists because there was no living to be made in the desert any longer. At least we understood why he was obsessed with the aqueducts! He did point out the lights and aqueducts along each side of the entry passage to the Treasury. The Romans were nothing if not thorough. It was blissfully cool inside the building, almost chilly in some places. The sandstone is so soft that apart from the external parts of the Treasury all the dwellings were carved from the rock.  The Arabic name for the Treasury is Al-Khazneh.

Another hot walk took us around to a lower part of the valley to the more traditional Roman ruins.  To the right of the valley was another smaller mountain, at the top, several caves. A purposeful climb later we stood at the top of the mountain overlooking the whole valley. It was only when we reached halfway to the top that Mel decided to let me know she didn’t like heights. Oops! It was a magnificent sight and balanced precariously on the edge I took some wonderful photos. On the way down we were stopped by several Bedouin girls. After chatting for a few minutes we were invited to have tea with them.

We were told explicitly NOT to go with any Bedouins, but…. Why spoil a good thing? The tea was very hot, very strong and VERY sweet. Of course, as we were sitting there our erstwhile spies walked past and seeing us under the overhang with our Bedouins, rushed off to tell everyone else we were probably being murdered or kidnapped. By this time we could laugh at the absurdity. It was with regret we said our goodbyes, but time was passing and we had to get back to the hotel. Succumbing to the lure of the donkeys, we had a slower trip back than if we had walked.

It had been many years since I had a donkey ride and it felt as though the years had fallen away. At one point I looked over my shoulder to see if Mum and Dad were still watching. It was a strange feeling as I knew, in my heart, that they were indeed watching. They had been watching over me the entire time I was wandering through Petra and I know Dad enjoyed the tea break with the Bedouins, that was his style.

Petra showed me that the present and the past have reflections of each other, if we are aware enough to see them. I had so much wanted my parents to enjoy parts of my trip and at the last moment in Petra they reminded me that they were there with me. After the sadness of losing Mum and Dad I was closer to them than I had been for quite some time. The heavy burden of grief lifted somewhat and I knew that in my heart they would always be with me. My spirit was soaring like the falcon I saw, happy that life follows its circle and allows us to make it complete again, when we are ready.

#In Seaarch of

Author unknown

Blessings, Susan ♥

Next week……. Madaba and Mount Nebo

© Susan Jamieson 2014

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Revelations

image from www-josephinewall-co.uk

“…When a choice will make a real difference in our lives—obvious or not—and when we are living in tune with the Spirit and seeking his guidance, we can be sure we will receive the guidance we need to attain our goal.”
― Dallin H. Oaks

My trip through history really begins……

From Acre we took a leisurely drive overlooking the Galilee and Jezreel valleys, but were unable to go up to the Golan Heights was it still considered a ‘delicate’ area. We stopped for the night at the Kibbutz Ginnosar where the Sea of Galilee Boat or Jesus Boat was discovered in 1986.  Due to its preservation in the mud it is still able to be seen how and what the boat was made from, but the effects of exposure to the open air is now causing problems.  The next morning we were able to ride on a similar boat on the Sea of Galilee.  The cool air as we sailed along was really pleasant as the day began to heat up.

From there we drove to the Church of the Beatitudes.  Amazing frescoes in the church and sights from the mountain across the Sea of Galilee to Jordan on the far side gave one a feeling of what life must be like on a daily basis. On one side the peaceful sounds of the church service and the smell of incense and on the other, so near to an ancient enemy. It was almost too much for the mind to take in. Leaving there we drove to Nazareth where Jesus spent his childhood and after a couple of hours walking round with our guide, we left.

Traveling back towards the ‘border’ we drove down to the Dead Sea. It was surreal seeing the Palestinian villages on one side of the road and the Jewish settlements on the other. There were even occasions where there was a Jewish and Palestinian village side by side.  It was impossible to miss the high wire fences around the Jewish settlements.  It seemed sad that they could work side by side and yet need to be barricaded inside an enclosure at night to be safe. By day, they were almost neighbours, but by night enemies once more. The electric fences were the only thing keeping the Israeli farmers safe.  The voices of the past echoed around me.

Following the Dead Sea, we drove to Masada. It was an incredible landscape of dry and desolate land. Masada was an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel, situated on top of an isolated rock plateau (akin to a mesa) on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. The Siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire ended in the deaths of the 960 Jewish men and their families hiding there. (This is my understanding: “Since suicide is a sin a secret lottery was taken by the men. Everyone was killed the night before the Romans intended to overrun the settlement. The unlucky lottery ‘winner’ killed everyone before committing  suicide. In this way only one person would have broken the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, and committed the sin of suicide.”)

There were a couple of buildings under excavation too. Walking around the mesa was an eerie feeling. History spoke from every corner. As I walked around there was the sound of ancient footsteps and quiet voices. Spirit was crossing the ages for me.

The ‘strange’ part of the story begins here. After the Romans entered the settlement late in the day and found the dead bodies, the Commander ordered that the bodies be thrown off the plateau the following morning. However, the next morning not a single body could be found, neither in the settlement nor around the base of the plateau. They had simply – disappeared.

After a leisurely ride down in the cable car, we drove to our hotel at the Dead Sea. As we gathered to collect our suitcases prior to check in, I found my case had met with an accident. The wheels had been ripped out of the bottom of the case. How? I have no idea, but the idea of struggling with my case for the rest of my holiday made me shudder. A nice letter from the hotel manager, which later proved to be useless, was filed away with my paperwork.

Booked in, we all changed into our swimmers (old ones) and a shirt, to troop down to the Dead Sea. Suitably lathered in sunscreen with the warnings that:- we could spend no more than 5 – 10 minutes in the water and MUST shower at the beach before returning to the hotel.  Oh, and of course, there is the oft repeated statement, ”Everyone can float in the Dead Sea” or “No-one can drown in the Dead Sea”.

Down we go, in two’s and three’s we wander along the walkway into the Dead Sea. Like the petals of a flower slowly opening, people float off around the end of the walkway, a colourful explosion of laughing people. Of course being a chicken considerate person I held the cameras so Mel could go in first.  She thought it was great, just floating along without effort was a dream.  Then it was my turn.  All I have to do is walk out and let my feet float up in front of me as I lean back slightly. No trouble at all, just so easy, nothing could go wrong. Wrong! Oh damn! I leaned back a little and my feet started to come off the bottom. A surge of adrenalin hit me and I tried to stand back up.

Oh No – No Way was that going to happen. My feet kept rising, my arms were windmilling and very unladylike squeaks were coming from my mouth. As my arms windmilled and I squeaked, the obvious happened.  The one thing they really, strongly advised us against. DO NOT GET WATER IN YOUR EYES OR MOUTH.  They could have also added nose, but I presume they thought everyone would have got the message. Well, I did get the message, but, try flailing madly with your arms and stopping water from getting in your eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Someone finally realised I wasn’t playing around and grabbed my arm and I found my footing. Of course once found, I made an immediate exit from the Dead Sea.

My eyes, nose and throat burned like the dickens. A bottle of water later and all I could taste was salt. By this time Mel arrived so we both made a dash for the beach showers.  After ten minutes we gave in and made our way quickly to our rooms. Showered, shampooed and a bottle of moisturiser later I called her room and went over. I had run out of eye drops and was still feeling salty. We agreed; we felt as if we had been pickled in brine. We spent a small fortune on soaps and lotions and still our skin peeled off. I dread to think what it did to my stomach.

Cases packed, and in my case, manhandled by the porter, we climbed back on board the bus for Jerusalem. We had one stop to make…. to Bethlehem in the West Bank.

Ciao,  Susan x

Next week –  Jerusalem

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