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We drove halfway across Jordan, and here is what we saw most:
The Dead Sea
Our first morning it was chilly. I had read that there were hot springs near the hotel and thought that this would be the place to swim in the Dead Sea, as it would be a little warmer. I went to the concierge to ask. He said that they were in an unsecured area, were intended for residents and really couldn’t be recommended. Eek.
We went down to the hotel beach, and it actually was warm enough to swim, so we did. Wow – amazing. As you get in, you can see that there is a layer of clear liquid floating on the top of the water. If you wave your hands in the water, there are squiggles and worms of clear liquid that swirl about. We laid down and really did float. In fact, it was hard to get your feet to go down underneath you – they really wanted to be on the surface. When you did get them down, it looked like you were standing on the ground, because your shoulders were out of the water. Anika stayed in about 10 minutes, and then couldn’t take it anymore. I must say, my skin does feel much softer after my swim. And I didn’t even lather up with the disgusting black mud that all the Russians were using.
You might remember Petra as the place where the action in the third Indian Jones movie took place. It is a town built in the mountains. Actually, the town itself was built in a flat valley, surrounded by high, jagged, rocky cliffs. In these cliffs the residents built their burial chambers. There are thousands. Many are just doors carved in the rock, but others are elaborate structures. The most famous one looks like a carved Greek temple – with Corinthian columns and fancy roof structures and statues. It is really remarkable. This activity started in about 1200 BC, I think, and continued through the Roman era into 400 AD. They used a wadi (a river bed that was dry through most of the year, but exploded with water during flash floods) to get to their town. They built a dam at the front of it, to prevent the water from flooding their city. Then they paved the path. They also built channels about waist-height into the walls. In these they fitted terracotta pipes, to bring drinking water to the town. It is amazing.
We hiked though the wadi into the town, then wandered through the vestiges of the old town and up the hill on the other side to get up to the Monastery – another burial chamber that was later used by the early Christians as a church. It was a long path, including 766 steps. (Tasha counted them, as the donkey hustlers kept telling us it was over a thousand steps.) We brought a picnic, though we needn’t have, there was a restaurant of sorts at the top. The place is still inhabited by Bedouin, who try to sell you jewelry at every turn. Each item – 1 JD. That’s about $1.50. These are the stone and bead and silver necklaces that you see all over the States. They look like they are made in China, I have to say. Particularly as each vendor had exactly the same stuff. The rule in Bedouin life seems to be – men and boys take tourists on donkeys and camels, women and girls mind the booths. There were girls as young as 4 selling, in English, Arabic, Japanese and French. Amazing! What a strange way to grow up. By the time we got home, we were all positively exhausted, with the possible exception of Anika, who still seemed pretty peppy. We should have taken a camel back!
The views from the valley that the actual town was in.
We awake to intense fog on our second day! It lifted a little about the time we were ready to head back to Amman!
Want to know more? You could take a gander at a really great web site about Petra, if you like.
From Jordan we traveled to Mumbai, India.
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