Amman, Jordan
Petra, Jordan

Our itinerary from March 8, 2012 through April 3, 2012:
Israel to Amman Jordan | African Egypt to Sinai Egypt | Petra, Jordan to Israel

From Jerusalem to Amman, Jordan. Monday, March 12, 2012

We took a taxi from Jerusalem to the Jordanian border. On the way we saw a few Bedoin camps. We stopped at one, and the children ran over to our car, with their hands out. Sadly, they already know their job. Let the tourists take our pictures and they'll give us money.
Bedoin Camp
Bedoin Camp
Bedoin Children
Bedoin Children
Israeli Checkpoint
Israeli Border
We stopped first at the Israeli border, where they examined our passports and checked our luggage. The Israeli soldier at the border was very friendly. Our driver left us at a Jordanian checkpoint, where we entered a waiting room, went though security and waited for a bus to take us into Jordan.

Amman, Jordan. Tuesday, March 12, 2012

Amman is a typical modern, prospering city, with skyscrapers, museums, colleges, restaurants, department stores, and well dressed professionals, shoppers, and students, all going about their business. No dogs, lots of cats, and, we assume, no tourists, since everybody was staring at us (but in a friendly way). The roads are in excellent shape, no crosswalks and very few traffic lights, but they are not needed because the drivers are very considerate of pedestrians and other motorists. (I think Jordanians are the politest drivers in the world.) Outside the city are lots of attractive villas and apartment buildings, some developments with huge homes, and lots of new construction everywhere. From talking to Jordanians, we found that King Abdulah, a former Deerfield student of Cynthia's cousin, is loved by the people. His picture, along with his father Hussein's, hangs not just in official buildings, but in every shop, restaurant, café, hotel, hair salon, and gas station, and one man told us, "He's a King for the people."

We had one afternoon to explore the city on foot. Our goal was to find a Middle-Eastern restaurant for our one Amman dinner. We walked for three hours and found, disappointingly, that most good restaurants were French or Italian. Only the tiny luncheon spots served the Middle Eastern food we craved, so we stopped for lunch in one that had a brick oven and made middle-eastern pizzas and wraps. The tea was free and you could have all you wanted. Tea seems to be the national drink. It's even hard to get a cup of coffee. And, the one Middle-Eastern really nice restaurant we found that would be a good place for dinner did not serve wine. In fact, no restaurants that we found on our walk served alcohol. Prohibition in this Moslem country really works.
Restaurant with Middle Eastern Menu
Finally, we find the restaurant in Jordan we've been seeking, and they don't serve alcohol!
Back at our hotel, we explained what we wanted to the desk clerk. After some research, he came up with the perfect choice, a Lebanese restaurant that served Middle-Eastern food and wine. We got there by taxi and spent three and a half hours being served by a myriad of attentive waiters, eating an enormous array of appetizers and lamb main courses, and drinking excellent wine. Except for Cynthia, me, and one other woman, the restaurant was filled with men!

On the way home, Charlie embarrassed us. He wanted a beer to take back to the room so he told the young Moslem taxi driver to take us to a place that sold it. The man looked uncomfortable, but he did as he was told and eventually stopped in front of a small variety store. Charlie jumped out. We waited in the taxi for quite awhile. Then came Charlie accompanied by two men hovering over him talking to the taxi driver in Arabic, and they were all laughing. What happened? Carrying a bag with the beer, Charlie had walked into the glass door on the way out and banged his head. "I almost got a ------- concussion," was all he said. But, other than that, it was a good evening.

From Dehab, Egypt to Petra, Jordan. Sunday, March 25, 2012

Abdul drove us from Dehab to the Port of Neweiba. We had been given various times for the ferry to leave for Aqaba, Jordan so, to be cautious, we left Dahab on time for the earliest possible departure. It was a good thing! We just had time to buy our tickets and join the line already forming to board. We seemed to be the only foreigners and the only tourists. As we inched along in the line of mostly men, surprisingly, people would motion to us to go ahead, something that doesn't happen in lines at home. An official approached us, told us to follow him, and he took us to the front of the line. Instead of everyone giving us dirty looks for cutting, as they would back home, people in line smiled and nodded approval. We were then ushered onto the boat, the first passengers to board. We shouldn't have been surprised. This is the way we had been treated throughout Egypt.

The tense moments happened after we disembarked at Aqaba. All the luggage was piled in a big container, and someone was on top of it throwing down whatever anyone pointed to. We all got our bags, but one of Cynthia's was missing. Desperate, she climbed up on the dumpster and started rummaging through the remains. While up there, if she saw someone pointing to a bag, she's toss it down to him. Finally, happy ending! Charlie walked around the other side and found it on the ground.
Aqaba Ferry Aqaba Ferry
Back to Jordan

We took a taxi from Aqaba, Jordan to the Petra Palace Hotel. After a walk up and down the street before dinner, we met with the tour guide who would be taking us to the ancient archaeological city that has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was introduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. UNESCO has described it as "one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage." Petra was chosen by the BBC as one of "the 40 places you have to see before you die."

We had a very good dinner in the hotel dining room.
Petra Palace Hotel View from Petra Palace

Petra, Jordan. Monday, March 26, 2012

Petra by John William Burgon

It seems no work of Man's creative hand,
by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
a rose-red city half as old as time.
Petra. In the Sic Petra Sic
Petra Bazaar Petra Guards
Petra Tile Petra Tile
Petra Tile Petra Tile
After walking and climbing for five hours, Cynthia and Bill kept on treking up to the monastery at the top of the site. Charlie and I sat down to rest at a cafe, where I succumbed to the pleas of a young man wanting me to ride his 2nd donkey. I said, "OK, but just a very, very short ride." We rode along together and I was enjoying it so much, I didn't want to stop, so my short ride turned into a ride all the way to the Sic, where the donkey couldn't go. It was a lot more comfortable than riding on the camel.
Charlie loves cats, and cats love Charlie. Petra Donkey Ride
From Petra, Jordan to Eilat, Israel. Monday, March 26, 2012

At 2:30 the taxi picked us up to bring us to Eilat. On the way the driver stopped in Wadi Musa at Moses' Spring. Moses and the Israelites had been walking in the desert on the way to the promised land. He touched a rock with his staff, and a spring bubbled up. In this small building is the rock he touched and a well, where you can dip a cup and drink the water. A man, his wife, and baby were there when I went in, and the man filled a plastic cup with the water and gave it to me. It was cold and delicious.
Moses' Well Rock at Moses' Well
Father and Son at Moses' Well