Jordan – A Whirlwind Visit

Last month I traveled with the Salaam Cultural Museum (SCM) medical mission to Jordan to help displaced Syrians in need there. I worked with a group of medical professionals and humanitarians that provided medical and dental care to over 2000 people in a week’s time. We visited several towns to the north of Amman near the border, and spent 2 days working at Zaatari camp, the main refugee camp, and one of the biggest in the world.

After the mission, I took a few days to do some sightseeing with my mother, who also went on the mission. She had never been to Jordan before, and my last visit was over 6 years ago, so it was a welcome refresher. Our first day after the mission was over was spent making our way south to Petra. We visited Madaba, Mt. Nebo, a mosaic workshop and the Jordan River Foundation, then on to Kerak to visit the crusader castle before arriving in Petra. Once in Petra, we went to dinner at the Petra Kitchen, a restaurant that teaches you how (hands on!) to make the traditional dishes it serves. It was so much fun, we met lots of other people as we had to share the work tables and the dinner tables with the other guests, and the food was delicious!

20141115_115116_Richtone(HDR)_wmThe next day we went to Petra for the morning. The walk through the canyon is almost as interesting as the sight itself. As you walk along the pathway, you can get an idea of how the inhabitants of Petra protected themselves as well as provided the city with water. They had built a system of aqueducts to channel water in, but also built dams to keep flood waters out. The colors and patters in the rocks are just as interesting to look at too. Once in the city, of course your fist sight is of the Treasury, the most famous landmark of all. We spent the rest of the morning touring the sight and then making our way back to the entrance when it was time to leave. I suggest giving yourself a full day in Petra, so you won’t be rushed.

The next day we visited the Citadel of Amman, the ancient Roman city and later Arab stronghold. Then we went to visit Bethany, the location where John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. The path takes you through the archaeological park where you can see the remains of the pools, and a later church, then stop by the banks of the river. It’s an interesting mix of the ancient and the new – many denominations have built new churches near the site and you can see the differences in the architectural traditions of each denomination. It was easy to pick out the Armenian and the Russian Orthodox churches for their differing styles.

Next came a break at the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. It was nice to just relax, have a nice lunch, go for a swim, then head back to Amman for dinner and overnight. The next day was to be our last day in Jordan and we made the most of it- Um Qais, a Greco-Roman city overlooking the Jordan River Valley and the Sea of Galilee and views of the Golan Heights; Ajlun – a hilltop castle built by Salahedine; Jerash, one of the best preserved Roman cities in the world. Jerash is an amazing sight with beautiful columns and temples, and a wealth of history. Be sure to take your time, make use of the local guide, and enjoy the site.

Jordan is still a great place to visit, even though it’s neighbors are having problems. Our tours will take you to the highlights, and you can definitely spend more than 4 days – there is plenty more to do and you don’t have to be rushed. More activities like spending time at Ma’in Hot Springs, a full day at Petra and an evening at the Petra Kitchen. And take a half day for Jerash, you will want to have plenty of time to just wander the sight and marvel at the beauty of the ruins. Call us and we can make an itinerary just for you – and consider combining Jordan with another country such as Oman, Turkey, Israel, or Iran, just to name a few examples.

 

 

 

 

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