By *popular* demand here are a few snippets from my trip – my Top Ten:
1. Petra – ok, this is the main reason I went on the trip in the first place, and it didn’t fail to live up to expectations. It blew me away. So beautiful. I could fill a whole Top Ten just with Petra, but will leave you with a few photos instead.
2. The Call to Prayer – my first morning in Amman I was woken around 5.30am by the Call to Prayer ringing out over the city. Beautiful.
3. People – this is an unexpected one for a (former) people-hater like me, but I really enjoyed meeting people in Jordan, talking to them about their lives. My donkey handler, a young Bedouin boy called Mohammed (coz they’re all called Mohammed – truly) was particularly interesting. He and his family used to live in the caves around the mountains of Petra, until the government paid them to move out to the village. I’m interested in the politics of this, but satisfied knowing that at least they probably now having running water. I asked him if he’s married. Here’s the conversation:
Mohammed: “Married? No, I’m too young. I want to live a little first.”
Me: “How old are you?”
Me: “And how old will you be when you marry?”
Mohammed: “oh, 21 or 22.”
4. Seeing the West Bank – I studied Middle Eastern politics at uni, so it was a privilege to see some of the territories I’ve studied, if only from a distance. As tempting as it was to jump the river (yes, river, not creek), someone mentioned something about Israeli guards and big guns, so I didn’t. 😉
5. Seeing the Golan Heights – also a moment of political history and geographical wonder. I live in a country that has no land borders, so seeing borders, or being up close to them, always feels amazing.
6. Mosques – I loved them. The architecture, their presence in the cities and towns, the decoration, the centrality of religion … I was captivated by it.
7. The Holy Land – ok, I’m not a very religious person and I didn’t actually go to Jerusalem or other places traditionally associated with all things Holy, but I did visit a few sights … whatever your views, it’s history and I loved it! Here’s the place where Moses looked out over the Promised Land (Bible references welcome if you know them).
8. The Dead Sea – weird and wonderful. And yes, you really do float! Don’t get any in your mouth, though, it tastes DISGUSTING! That’s Israel in the distance, BTW. 😉
9. Food – I’ve always been a bit partial to hommus, but seriously, the food in Jordan was YUMMY! Hommus, baba ganouj, kebabs, bread, labneh… AND I came home with recipes 🙂 Possibly even better was the food I had in Dubai by that chef with the bad manners – seriously, SERIOUSLY good 🙂
10. Views from the plane – specifically the night-time view over the southern tip of India and Sri Lanka, all lit up like a Christmas tree. It looked beautiful – kinda like this photo from that big American space agency – but I suspect it also says something about the density of population, poverty and the environment. 😦
And how could I share some photos, and not this one? The label on one of the hotel towels I had in Jordan. LOL
Some of you might be wondering why I didn’t rate the Pyramids in my Top Ten, or the Sphinx (or “Sphink-us” as they’re sometimes called locally). They were nice, sure, but didn’t “wow” me like the other things on this list. In fact Egypt didn’t “wow” me much at all. Sad to say, but there it is. I did wonder if there was something “wrong” with me, but I suspect not… it just didn’t captivate me like Jordan did.