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Posts Tagged ‘Mt Nebo’

“Finding oneself and one’s path is like waking up on a foggy day. Be patient, and presently the fog will clear and that which has always been there can be seen. The path is already there to follow”
Rasheed Ogunlaru, Soul Trader: Putting the Heart Back into Your Business

~

The next day we left Petra on the Kings Highway for our first stop at the ruins of the crusader fortress of Al Karak. It had the feel of a large open town, symmetrically laid out. It was almost possible to see crusaders marching around in full regalia. Situated at the edge of town there was a surreal feel to the place. More than ever history and modern day events lived side by side. Left to ramble over the ruins we wandered over what seemed like acres of ground. It would have been more than impressive in its day.

After the long exploration we drove to a lonely, windswept hill, Mount Nebo, which is believed to be the tomb of Moses and is where Moses looked out over the “promised land”, forbidden to enter by God. A mosaic floor still lies in the ruins of a 4th and 6th century church. This time we were the only people at the ruin and were able to spend quite a bit of time walking around and exploring the area. Looking out across the land it seemed desolate, nothing but sand and rock. It’s hard to imagine it as being “the Promised Land”, a “Land or Milk and Honey”, but seasons come and go and everything eventually changes. It really made you ask why there was so much blood shed over such a barren and desolate place. (It may not have been at the time).

Our next stop was at Madaba still driving along the 5000 year old King’s Highway. Madaba is known as the City of Mosaics. We were there to see the mosaic of the Holy Land which is part of a floor mosaic in the early Byzantine church of Saint George. The church is northwest of the city centre and was built in 1896 AD, over the remains of a much earlier 6th century Byzantine church. Madaba appeared to be a congested little town where every street was twisting one way or another. Of course we had no idea which way we were going and our guide gave a simple direction. “Make sure you can see the person in front of you. Don’t stop for any reason and don’t get lost. Do not stop to look in the shops or talk to the shop keepers. I will not be responsible if you stop. We may not be able to find you”. How much was for effect and how much real?

We did start to lose some of our party, those who were having trouble keeping up. The guide was not interested in moderating his pace and a few of the less fit, who would have enjoyed the excuse to stop and check out the local wares, began to fall behind. Soon it was obvious we were about to lose part of our party and all I could see was a sea of Arab faces, all  clamouring for us to stop and look at the things they had for sale along the street or enticing us to “Step inside and see our wares”.

To say I was annoyed would be putting it mildly. The people who had been the first to tattletale that we were being ‘kidnapped’, ‘arrested’ or grabbed by the Bedouin, made sure they remained hot on the heels of the guide and didn’t look back. The rest of us formed a relay of sorts, a string of white faces amongst the sea of Arab faces, ensuring we could see the person in front and behind. Eventually we made it to the Church and reformed our group again.  Words were spoken, both to the group who ignored the people falling behind and to the guide, who suddenly developed “English amnesia”.  There’s nothing like a goatherd when you need a guide in town!

The trek was worth it to see the mosaic, but the tension spoilt the journey. Strangely enough we managed to get back to the bus using a much more direct route and took much less time. The streets were also much wider and less congested. I wasn’t the only person pondering the strange behaviour of our guide; in fact I was convinced he had taken us through the seediest part of town. We were all relieved we had managed to keep a look out for each other and arrived safely back at the bus.

Once more on the bus we had one final stop, at a souvenir place. Once again, it seemed a place in the middle of nowhere and off the beaten track. They had the most amazing oil paintings done on canvas or velvet. Far too difficult to say no to something so beautiful when we knew this was the last opportunity we had to buy anything in Jordan. One of the salesmen decided to follow Mel and me around the store. It seemed that all the salesmen were determined to sell everyone something before we left.  Of course, this was the land of bartering and it had been fun in Egypt, which I totally forgot to mention. So, smiling sweetly we did the circuit of the store, once, twice, three times before finally getting down to choosing a few things we liked. Then it came time to start the haggling process.

Both Mel and I were travelling elsewhere after our stay in Jordan and the idea of trying to carry framed pictures with us, simply didn’t appeal. I had chosen a beautiful velvet oil of a Bedouin encampment amongst Roman ruins. It was beautiful and I did buy it for a very good price and persuaded him to remove the frame for me.  Then we smiled and asked him to remove the frames from Mel’s pictures.  Our friends were not impressed as they had pictures in frames whilst we had ours safely rolled to carry with us.

Once back in Amman I had the unequaled pleasure of trying to find a pharmacy which stocked the medication I needed. I had miscalculated somehow and I was fortunate to find a pharmacy with a pharmacist who understood English and had the right tablets. As luck would have it she was right around the corner about three hundred metres up the street. However I was pleased to get back inside.

The next day we had a guided tour of Amman. We ended up at the Citadel, the old Roman ruins in the centre of Amman. The Citadel is actually on a hill with the ruins of the Temple of Hercules. Below the Citadel’s southern rim is a stream known as Seil Amman. It is on the south bank that most of the Roman City of Philadelphia was situated. The ruins have a main Forum, Theatre, Odeon, and various shops. The Amphitheatre is the largest in Jordan, and could seat 6,000 spectators. The Theatre area is filled with stalls selling shish kebabs or ice creams as well as souvenir shops. There is also an exquisite example of a Byzantine mosaic from Madaba.

It was a great way to end our tour of Jordan and to end our time together. We had the afternoon to relax, compare notes of our tour together, exchange addresses with everyone and get our cases organised and repacked. Last minute laundry was essential for Mel and me.

The next day Mel was leaving for Mount Sinai, people were travelling home, to Brazil, Canada, the US and the UK whilst I was staying an extra day before going back to Israel. Everyone was leaving at different times so the whole day was spent saying ‘goodbyes’. It had been a wonderful trip and I was looking forward to going back to Israel.

#In Search of

The Siq, Petra

It had been a whirlwind trip, filled with so much history and scenery which at times took your breath away and at others left you wondering why there was so much fighting there. With so much history and so many different cultures all melting into a country and culture it was not surprising that there was the unique diversity amongst the people in the Middle East. From the Byzantine era, Crusaders, Moses and Romans, it was a land steeped in religious doctrines and wars. I felt awed and humbled but with a sense that I was gaining a clearer perspective of who I was, what I believed and where I was heading. It was going to be interesting going back to Israel again. I wondered if it would be as difficult to return as it had been to get in originally.

Next week…..Back to Tel Aviv.

Blessings,  Susan ♥

© Susan Jamieson 2014

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