On the bus at 5:00 am and some distance to our stop at the border of Israel and Jordan, most of us slept. When crossing the border, we first exit Israel, where our passports were stamped, then drive through no man's land to the Jordan border. At the Jordan border our luggage is checked, passports stamped, and we unload from the Israel bus to a Jordan bus. During this whole trip the weather was great, shorts and T shirt weather, but not hot.
During this first day we saw digs, ancient buildings, and suites where various Old Testament and New Testament events took place. In the evening, after 10 pm, we arrived at the hotel in Petra, had a good meal, and collapse into our beds. Wake up call in the morning would be 6:30.
The next day we walked and hiked through Petra. This is the most amazing place, its hard to believe that it is real. If you saw "Indiana Jones", you have seen a very small portion of Petra, The Temple from the Indiana movie is called the Treasury (al-Khazneh), it is believed to have been built as a tomb for the king Aretas III probably during the first century BC, and carved out of the stone wall. The treasury is 40 meters high and 28 meters wide, and has two floors. The facade has 6 columns, and between them some carved statues representing the horsemen, sons of the god Zeus. From a book: "The city of Petra is located south-west of Jordan,...... it is 255 kms away from Amman. It is....... where some think that the prophet Moses drew up water from the rocks. ........Most of the historians and archeologists classify the ruins of Petra among the most important, and as a wonderland of the past. .....visiting and studying Petra will remain in your memory for ever." And so it will, for me. We walked through the Siq, a natural narrow gorge through the rocks. It is 1200 meters long, the sides are as high as 100 meters, and solid rock. In various places along the way, the stone sides are carved, images of camels and traders, representations of gods, and a water duct. The bottom of the Siq was paved, and in places the remains of the Nabataean street could be seen. Beyond the Siq were wider areas where houses, government buildings and a theater had been carved out of the rock sides. In some of the areas the buildings were carved out of multi colored sand stone. Pink, yellow, white, brown and tan swirls of color made wonderful patterns on the carved buildings.
Toward the end of the walk is a restaurant and museum where we had lunch. After lunch many went hiking on their own. Don and I got separated, I was looking for him, it was getting late and the hike back to the bus would take an hour or more. In my pocket was about enough money to hire a camel to the Treasury which is about half way back, so I did. I got on, but before the camel would stand up he made a mournful complaint to the camel man. The camel man shouted orders and kept jerking on the rope until the camel reluctantly stood up. I thought "Oh shoot! This camel is going to do something strange and I'm on top of him!" When the camel is walking, the motion is a swaying forward and back, but when he goes faster, and he did, it's like sitting on a violent vibrating machine. I had lost the lid on my water bottle and it splashed all over me and the camel. At the Treasury, the camel didn't want to lay down, again he made his mournful complaints, the camel man shouted and pulled on the rope again. Finely he laid down so I could slide off. I was wet, tired, and knew that soreness and stiffness was soon to set in. I sat and waited thinking that surely Don would come by soon, others from our group passed by, but they hadn't seen him since the restaurant. It was getting close to bus time, I had better start hiking toward the bus, maybe somehow he got ahead of me. I got to the bus before he did and went back to the gate to wait for him, I was worried. He had come through the gate while I was at the bus, taken a different route to the bus and we missed each other again. Don was late because he was looking for me. Well, to make an already long story short, we finely connected, and we're on the bus headed for Elot.
Elot was the second night and the best hotel of all. We had time after dinner to walk down to the beach, I waded in the water and Don swam out to the float with some of the kids from our group. This was the first time for me to see the Red Sea, it was a beautiful evening.
The last day of our trip, Sunday, I, hiked up Masada, yes me, I did it!! We hiked up the siege ramp on the back side. On top are interesting ruins to see and explore. Some of our group hiked down the Snake Path on the front side, but Don and I chose to ride the tram. We stopped at the Dead sea for lunch. Many of the students went in for a swim, Don and I just watched, I was feeling tired and the thought of changing into my bathing suit seemed like an overwhelming effort. There were Arab women in the water, they were wearing their long, dark, heavy robes and shawls over there heads while swimming and playing with their children in the water. You can buy Dead Sea Mud, to rub on your skin (it is supposed to make your skin soft), and many on the beach, including some of our group were covered in black mud. The mud washes off in the water, but it looked strange to see all of these people covered in black mud.
Six thirty pm the bus stopped, we were in Jerusalem, the thought of my own shower and bed was the carrot in front of me that kept me going. Don flagged a taxi, what a luxury, and soon we were dragging our selves and our suitcase into our apartment.
There's no place like home.