April 20, 2011 Wednesday
Day 08  Bosra , Syria - Amman, Jordan
Submitted  by Micky Ryan Pictures - Meli

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We have a long day ahead of us. Breakfast at 06:00 departure at 07:00. This meant we had to have strong coffee before we started doing any thing. Meli promised strong coffee in Bosra.  Bags (and Mary Kay) out at 6:15 for an early start of our last day in Syria. By 6:30, we left the sweet hotel in old Damascus that had felt like home. In the last three days, we had spread out all over the traditional courtyard home- cocktail hour in the lobby, practicing yoga as well as drying clothes on the roof terrace. Luckily there were no other guests!

To Damascus, years are only moments, decades are only flitting trifles of time. She
measures time, not by days and months and years, but by the empires she has seen rise,
and prosper and crumble to ruin. She is a type of immortality.
                                              Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad

Yesterday Esad had announced that Emergency Law was lifted after 50 years. The streets were already decorated with the flags to celebrate the freedom in Syria. We were all hoping that this decision will be the beginning of a good future for the Syrians. We all loved the Syrian people and we wish them a life that they deserve.

As always, the most difficult thing on this tour
was calculating how much each person was going to pay
for the drinks.

 On the bus, Michael gave a lively lecture on Saladin and the Crusades, linking thousands of years of invasion of this region by the West. Meli also shared her thoughts.  Religious motives and personal ambitions had given the Crusades hundreds of years of presence in the Middle East. But so far they did not get what they have wanted. After hundred of years the mutual wounds remain fresh on both sides.
Our first stop in Bosra was Sham Palace for a great coffee. Then we started the tour of this 25 hundred year old Nebatean City which maintained its importance on the Silk Road and Pilgrimage route until the trains rerouted the commerce and the pilgrams.
The life in the village continuing in the Roman  era settlement had not changed much for hundreds of  years.At Bosra, we spent several hours wandering around the town that is at least 3,000 years old and was once capital of the Nabataen kingdom. It was also an important Roman town and we saw many of the architectural features we had seen at other Roman sites. The unique feature of this site was that the village that had been built long ago over and around the ruins was intact. People were living and working here as they have for thousands of years.

The people of Bosra lived just like their Nebatain ancestors lived

They used the Roman houses to live in

They used the Roman shops to do their shopping

The performers managed to find our way out through a treacherous dark passage way, and on the bus again for a second visit to the fancy hotel before saying goodbye to Aiman.

Aiman was a wonderful guide and perfect for our group- kind, funny, knowledgeable and always protective of us. We will miss him but I will always remember my favorite of his expressions- “This is important”. He well represented all of the qualities we had found in the Syrian people. We hope for the best for them and in the words of Mohammed “Joy be to the people of Syria, for the angels of the kind God spread their wings over them.” Let’s hope so.
Once again, we only saw a handful of tourists. We shared some of the last of our Syrian money with the eager young salesmen who followed us. We could see that they needed some business.
The highlight of Bosra was saved until the end of the tour. The magnificent black basalt theatre, built in the 2nd century and largely intact, wowed even those of us growing jaded about Roman ruins. It remains capable of holding 15,000 people and Meli thinks it is even better than those in Turkey. Several of our tour members climbed to the bottom and gave a short performance to demonstrate the strength of the acoustics.

We had a private concert  at the theater of Bosra!
"Old McDonald had a farm..........."

Carole made it down the steep cavea  of the theater.

The smiling faces of  the Father and the Son  They were the last thing we saw leaving Jordan. I was wondering if the next time we visit Jordan, if they will be the ones welcoming us at the border.

Our guide Mehdi

We arrived at the Jordanian border, and although there was the usual wait at various checkpoints, we were all more relaxed than we had been going into Syria. Perhaps it was because it was Jordan rather than Syria but I suspect we all now considered ourselves veterans of elaborate border crossings. And of course Meli was doing all of the work.
Border crossing  was easy but not quick. For some reason stamping of 9 passports again took one hour.  We were leaving Syria with wonderful memories.

On the Jordanian border we met our Guide Mehdi. He has been waiting for us for more than 4 hours. While he was getting our entry formalities we all got Jordanian dirhems  .70 Jordanian to one US$.
 We have one hour bus ride before we can have  very late lunch. We are all eager to see if the food will be different here.

In Jordan the school filed trips are quite popular. The boys and girls take  turn having a field trip on alternating days. Today it as girls' day. Mark was the center of attention!

Mary Kay was very color coordinating with the colors of Jardesh

The forum of Cardesh.

Soon we were on our way again, with our new guide, Mahdi. He took us to a restaurant with delicious hot pita bread before our visit to Jerash. It was a beautiful day for our visit to this large Roman site, and we were joined by several thousand young Jordanian women, eager to talk with us, shake our hands, take our photos and welcome us to Jordan. We all got a chance to understand what it is to be a celebrity. This week is girls take their spring break in Jordan, and next week the boys will have their break.

Jerash is a very large Roman site, now in the middle of a large city. Nearly 20,000 people lived in Jerash in the 3rd century. We passed under a large Hadrian’s arch to a unique oval plaza surrounded by 56 columns. We saw the ruts of the chariots in the original 1st century pavement of the colonnaded street, stretching nearly 800 yards. Many of the 500 columns that once lined this street remain.

We saw much more at Jerash but we all became fascinated by the spoon that was stuck in a gap at the bottom of a huge column. It moved, and the column also moved. Scary when you think about it.


Mary Kay and Micheal had reminded us the love birds that we have seen nesting in the holes of the

Soon we were back on the bus and to Amman. We arrived at the Arena Hotel, and even after staying there several days in the last week, I am still not sure where that hotel is located. Some headed for the buffet at the hotel for dinner, others headed to a restaurant called Grappa for pizza and drinking. The cab ride to the restaurant was an adventure as well as a nighttime city tour. Although we had taken the precaution of having the name and the address of the restaurant written down in Arabic, our taxi driver was confused. After he asked directions of multiple shopkeepers, police officers, military personal, as well as his fellow cab drivers, it dawned on us to offer him the telephone number. This worked and we arrived at the restaurant, but seemed to make our driver mad enough to overcharge us three times the regular fare.
The restaurant was very modern and would not be out of place in any American city. I continued to experience the culture shock due to the differences between Syria and Jordan. We ate pizza as the crowd cheered on the soccer teams of Barcelona and Madrid. A security guard at the restaurant provided our quick ride to the hotel.

                               Click here for Day 09 Petra                                        
Table of Content    Syria tour Itinerary     Home page   
Syria 2011 group journal