April 21, 2011 Thursday
Day 09  Mount Nebo, Karak, Petra
Submitted  by Carole ,  and Meli Seval

                                  Click here for Day 10 Petra                              
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Amman looks like any modern city. From my window I could see the white painted apartment buildings, the glittering light of a mall, and busy highway. The only thing that had confirmed the fact that Amman , like Aleppo, like Damascus, has been and still is a very important stop on the way to the Moslem Holy Land , Hicaz  was the Indian Moslem pilgrims at the hotel. The woman were wearing very colorful, embroidered, bejeweled out fits covering themselves from head to toe. The men were in ironed, starched, white long dresses.  Our day was going to take us to another Holy Land, to  the land  where Moses had a joy of seeing the Dead Sea and the River Jordan

We left Amman a huge busy  city early. The buildings are largely built of lime stone and somewhat austere closed in feel.

As we approached the Mountain of Nebo, the road was winding up the hills giving no warning that in few minutes we would be looking at the lowest point of  our planet. Honoring the sacredness of the location, in the 6th Century the Byzantines had built a church on the hill top.

According to legend Moses first saw the Promised land after wandering through the desert for 40 years. One might wonder why it took so long to get from Egypt to Jordan Valley  especially Moses himself never made to Jerusalem.   From the edge of the church wall one could stand where Moses had stood up  leaning on his scepter,
and one could see what Moses saw , the Holy Land of the Christians and the Jews.

In the distance lies  the Jordan River and the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea

The distance to the Biblical sites.
No place is too far from here!!

The Jordan River where Jesus was Baptized

Our next stop was Madaba ( Midaba). It seemed like the Jordanians were very well organized with Tourism Police. Our guide had to first inform our arrival to the police. A short walk to the church. We were first invited to the visitor's center to have an explanation on the floor mosaic of the church which had a replica on the wall here. The remains of  a complex mosaic map of the Jordan Valley area was uncovered when preparation for a house construction was underway. The mosaic was the ethnographic, topographic and the Biblical map of the Holy Land. the walled city of Jerusalem, the place where Jesus was baptized and the segments from life style of the people were depicted very clearly.

Midaba Greek Orthodox Church
stands as a witness to the Byzantine authority here
 since the 6th Century.
The great mosaic on the floor of the church describes the life in the Holy Land and the paintings are excellent examples of the 6th century Christian art.

Two boats in the river Jordan. one is loaded with salt
represented with a white bundle and the other boat is caring a cargo of wheat.

The Byzantine interpretation of the life of Jesus on the wall paintings in the church.
Looking for coffee again!                                                 The bedewins, in their trucks, we,
                                                                                                 in our bus, hit the road again.

After a tasty lunch stop, we continued on to Kerak

Yesterday the group voted to take a 2-hour detour to go to the citadel of Kerak which was the longest occupied Crusader's castle. Michael had already told us the history of Arnold  After being rescued from a 15-year imprisonment,  Arnold  continued fighting with the Arabs. But Selahaddin Eyyubi finally took his  head and his  castle and put an end to the worst of the Crusade invasion in the Middle East.  Getting to Kerak was a hustle. We had a huge bus and the double parked cars did not leave a road for us to move. Angry police man and the locals helping the police finally opened the way for us and we reached the Kerak  Citadel. On arrival Michael was heard to say:"a long bus ride abrades one's will to live" amen to that!


Dominating the region, the citadel looked like a huge eagle's nest.
One could clearly sea see that not one caravan could pass by this fortress
with out paying their proper dues .


The 3 hour bus ride to Petra was an excellent time to ask our questions to our Guide, Mehdi.  We learned about the traditions of the families in tribal Jordan. the family laws we were told, overrules the state laws. Polygamy is being practiced. The widowed wives will have to marry her brother in law to keep the children in the family. The wedding rituals can last a week or more. The tradition of having coffee has a language of its own: one cup of coffee means I am our friend. Two cups of coffee, I am loyal to you as a family member will be loyal, 3 cups of coffee means I am ready to shed my blood for you.






Our evening entertainment was the sound and light show at Petra. The long Journey on foot through the trail illuminated only by candlelight is very special. The sound and light show was for me an anticlimax; less magical than it could have been mostly because the show'- flute music and a song accompanied by an ancient Bedouin stringed instrument - rebab -  was followed by a recitation that lacked passion. never the less Mary Kay and Michael were so "affected" that they were the last to leave.
Tomorrow a full day to explore the Petra  site and  learn more about the complex and the sophisticated peoples  who populated this area.

We stayed overnight at Petra Palace just a walk away from the entrance of Petra.
The rooms on the 3rd floor looking at the pool were wonderful. http://www.petrapalace.com.jo/

       Click here for Day 10 Petra                        
Table of Content    Syria tour Itinerary     Home page   Syria 2011 group journal