Jordan: Bethany Beyond the Jordan, Mount Nebo, Wadi Mujib, Madaba, and Kerak.

The last day of touring in Jordan brought me to the most holy of places: the site on the Jordan River where many believe Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. “Where’s the water?” is of course the question today. Like many rivers, the Jordan River has changed its course over time.

This location is called Bethany Beyond the Jordan. Between the four pillars of stone on the slab of rock is thought to be the spot where Jesus was immersed.

St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church nearby displays what it says is the skull of the beheaded John the Baptist. There are several other locations in places such as Rome and Bulgaria making the same claim. Who knows?

Another wow religious experience was the visit to Mount Nebo, the site where Moses saw the Promised Land. A land, if you remember the scripture, that he never lived to enter. In fact, it is believed that Moses died here on Mount Nebo. There’s lots to see from this spot: the Dead Sea, Jericho, the Jordan River Valley, the mountains from Hebron to Nablus, the surrounding hills of Amman, and on very clear days, Bethlehem.

A sculpture of Moses’ staff, which turned into a snake when he threw it down in front of Pharoah, stands on Mount Nebo.

Much of Jordan is desert, what the Bible often calls the wilderness.

The waters of the Wadi Mujib are a welcome sight in this arid land. Fed by seven tributaries, the river empties into the Dead Sea.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a herd of goats on a highway before, certainly not in eastern North Carolina.

Caught shopping again (I’m buying a camel figurine), but I was trying to spend the rest of my Jordanian money before heading home. I’m pretty sure the Harris Teeter doesn’t accept dinars.

Madaba is a town famous for its mosaics, particularly something called the Madaba Map. This map is part of a larger mosaic floor that dates to the sixth century. The map shows part of the Middle East and focuses on Jerusalem.

How do I know these details? I paid attention when our Jordanian guide explained, using a picture of the map before we saw the actual mosaic one. (I also use Google to help me get my facts straight!)

Of course, I couldn’t spend a couple of days in Jordan without being led to visit some kind of ruin. The Crusader Castle in Kerak, which dates to 1142, allowed me to check that box (again).

The Kerak Crusader Castle was built high on a hill, the better to spot an enemy…and to throw infidels over the side. Yes, a lot of awful stuff was done by the Crusaders. They were not tolerant of those who didn’t share their beliefs.

I don’t look all that tired in this last photo of Al and me from the trip, but believe me, after a fourteen-day bus ride that required staying at six different hotels, I was exhausted. Israel and Wonders of Jordan, the official name of this journey, was a wonderful experience overall, but as usual when I travel, I was happy to go home.

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