It has been a couple of days since I have had internet access, so I warn you this will probably be quite long as I have been all over, and seen lots of amazing things. I will try to stick to the highlights though.
Friday, after a brief look round the old citadel in Amman, I went north to a place called Jerash. It was quite incredible. It is a huge site. Has two large roman theatre’s which are almost completely intact, and a tangle of other ruins that were in use from roman times, to the Byzantine period.
This is the arched gateway at the site which was built to celebrate the visit of the emperor Hadrian to the region.
The next day I went south to the dead sea.
I have to admit that I chickened out of going for a swim. It is kind of muddy looking. I did dip my fingers in though. I can’t say it felt too much different from any other sea I have put my fingers in. I did see some people floating though.
From there it was up into the mountains to my new hotel for the night. The mountain range was spectacular and it would really be worth a visit to Jordan just for the scenery, even if there wasn’t also loads of historic stuff to see.
The next morning I had a full day at Petra. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about the visit because I wasn’t sure whether it was going to live up to expectations. Not many things look as good in real life as they do all lit and edited in film. However, I wasn’t disappointed. The site is spectacular. You walk through a long canyon and then all of a sudden you round a corner and catch site of the treasury building through a gap in the stone.
If you go in the morning it catches the light in the most incredible way. They must have known when they built it that spot would catch the light just like that. The whole thing was designed to make a statement.
However, Petra is not just about the treasury. There are hundreds of other smaller tombs, spectacular natural sandstone features, a roman street and temple. Most impressive though is this.
It’s called the monastery. It apparently predates the treasury by 100 years, and while the treasury combines influences from about 4 or 5 different cultures the monastery is purely the local Nabataean architecture. In some ways I actually think it is more beautiful. It is simpler, has a kind of elegance to it. However I could just think that because I had to climb 800 steps in 40 degree heat in order to get there. It’s times like that I realise how unfit I actually am.
The sad thing is that as we were going round my guide told me that tourism numbers in Jordan are really dropping off. People are being scared off by the political situation in neighbouring countries. Unfortunately the less visitors they have going through the less money available to preserve the site and do more archeological research. Apparently less than 30% of the site has been excavated.
This morning was a brief trip even further south to the desert of Wadi Rum and then back to Amman.
I have seen a lot of touristy type shops run by women’s cooperatives over the last couple of days. They have some of the most incredible embroidered rugs and throws I have ever seen. I am trying to resist, because my suitcase is already groaning. I don’t know how it got so full because I haven’t bought an awful lot but I really can’t fit much more in.