Hello from Wadi Rum, Jordan. I didn’t cross the Israeli border on camel, but along with my husband, I did ride one in a place called Wadi Rum in the Jordanian desert. I think my daughters were ready to send someone from the US Embassy after us when I emailed this picture, but you live only once, right?
Riding a camel was one of the highlights of my trip to Jordan, but there were some spectacular sights in this country as well. After crossing the Israeli border at Allenby Bridge, our group visited the ruins at Jerash.
Petra is supposed to be the tourist highlight in Jordan (more about that in my next post), but this place was a pretty impressive first stop. In fact, the structures at Jerash are considered the most well-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy.
This imposing gateway, the Arch of Hadrian, is the entrance to what was once a bustling city of twenty thousand people.
Jerash flourished during the second half of the first century AD. As part of the Roman empire, the city was an important trade center. Destroyed by an earthquake in 749, ancient Jerash lay buried until the 1800’s when it was discovered. Excavations began in 1925.
The ruins are in such good condition due to Jordan’s dry climate. Below is the Nymphaeum Temple.
As in many Roman ruins, there are intricate mosaic floors.
Amidst the magnificent ruins of a once prosperous city, Jerash today hosts young boys hustling for money. This young singer knows the sweet spot in the ancient amphitheater where his voice projects for all to hear. When I asked our guide for a translation of the Arabic words, I was told the child was singing about how hard and miserable his life is.
I may be a sucker, but I gave him a couple of dollars for his performance.
Jerash was less than an hour from Jordan’s capital, Amman, where we spent our first night in the country. My husband took a picture of this beautiful view from our hotel window.
Day two in Jordan found us heading to Wadi Rum. In Arabic, wadi means valley, but Wadi Rum is more like a desert with spectacular rock formations. This particular natural sculpture is named the Seven Pillars of Wisdom (if you’re counting, there are two on the other side).
Our tour literature advertised a ride through the Wadi Rum desert in a four-by-four jeep. Instead, we found ourselves on the back of a pick-up truck. The substitution didn’t bother an old farm girl like me.
Of course, my first picture in this post shows my other form of transportation at Wadi Rum. My husband and I left the truck to make a short trek from one stop to another via camel. We made it with no injuries, thanks to advice from our guide.
This is the head of Lawrence of Arabia carved in stone as a memorial to Thomas Lawrence, who lived in a tent on this spot. Lawrence of Arabia is famous for his part in the Arab revolt against the Turks during the Ottoman Empire.
One of the highlights of the trip to Wadi Rum was having tea in a Bedouin tent. The Bedouins are a nomadic people whose name in Arabic means desert dwellers. There are well over a million people of Bedouin descent in Jordan. In the past, Bedouins lived in caves or tents.
I suspect this tent was not anyone’s home but rather set up for tourists. Still, the tea I was served was delicious. Notice the way Bedouin men relax. No Barcalounger needed for them. The fellow in the middle waving was our guide throughout Jordan.
Yes, I think we were given the romantic view of life as a Bedouin. Today many live, not in spacious caves or fancy tents, but in roughly constructed dwellings along the highway.
Maybe it was the camel ride, maybe the trip on the back of a pick-up truck through the Jordanian desert, maybe the tea in the Bedouin tent–after the Old City of Jerusalem, Wadi Rum was my second favorite day of the trip to Israel and Jordan.