Jordan vibes openness, warmth, and friendliness
It is officially known as the ‘The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’ and is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. The country is a constitutional monarchy but the king holds executive and legislative powers. Sunni Islam is the dominant religion in Jordan but it coexists with a Christian minority. Jordan is considered one of the safest Arab countries in the Middle East. Also, the Jordanian Dinar is a superstar currency. With one dollar you can only buy 77 cents of the Jordanian Dinar.
Humans have inhabited Jordan land since the beginning of time, to be precise, starting from the Paleolithic period. Over the centuries, the Nabateans, Romans, Ottomans and British were the master rulers of the land. Locals believe that Jordan has been of such key importance not only because of its strategic location, history but also because most prophets were born, lived or passed through this land in their life time.
Jordan is a landlocked country and its neighbors include Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Israel and Palestine. Jordan is one of two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel. It has also accepted refugees from conflict-affected regions like Palestine, Syria and Iraq. Huge influx of refugees, lack of natural resources like water and regional turmoil have unfortunately taken a toll and crippled the economy of Jordan, which has led to high levels of unemployment and poverty. Still, Jordan is considered an upper middle class economy. Even though it is a small economy, it has attracted foreign investors based on its highly skilled work force.
Based on the backdrop above, I decided to visit this historic land. I travelled roughly 1000 km from Amman to Aqaba to soak history and weave tales that few could tell. I landed at Queen Alia Airport in Amman at 0800 hours. Due to my Jordan Pass, and the efficiency of the Jordanian system, my immigration lasted only a few minutes. As I walked out, I met my local guide Mustafa. He explained to me the itinerary for my Jordan stay. Without wasting much time, we hopped in his car to visit the city of churches and mosaics, Madaba. I noticed the mosaic art workers were Muslim and had no problems in creating Christian artifacts. This made me further feels the peaceful co-existence of religions.
After exploring the churches, we went to Mount Nebo. This is the place where Moses was granted a view of the ‘land of milk and honey’ also known as the ‘Promise Land.’ I also got to see the olive tree planted by the Pope during his visit. Post Mount Nebo, we stopped to explore the crusader Karak Castle. Hiking Karak castle became tiring so we decided to retire for the evening in the city of Petra.
I woke up very excited in Petra because I was going to visit the site of Indiana Jones. The city of Petra is simplistic, untouched by modernity, hilly, with roads that are windy. Another name for Petra is the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved. Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, surrounded by mountains, passages and gorges. The site itself was very clean, and the easiest way to explore the area is by taking a horse carriage but I decided to walk.
Post exploration of Petra, we drove down to Wadi Rum and Aqaba. Aqaba is special because it is the only costal town of Jordan. Wadi Rum is distinctive not only because of its scenic charm but also because of the movie Lawrence of Arabia. I was told some major parts of this iconic movie were shot in this region. For its cultural and historic significance, Lawrence of Arabia was selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry.
During my time in Wadi Rum, I visited the seven pillars of T.E Lawrence, hiked a little bit through the Khazali canyon and spent the night in a Bedouin camp eating Bedouin desert style cooked food and then slept gazing at the stars by night, far away from the luxuries of modern life.
The interiors of Wadi Rum are so disconnected from the world that not even a single mobile signal reaches you. A night at the camp made me appreciate my comforts. The morning after, I woke up with deep gratitude for all the blessings that I had been bestowed upon.
Now it was time to head back, and on route stop by Dead Sea. The drive to Amman via Dead Sea is pristine and picturesque. It looks like something straight out of a movie. Due to the Arab summit, most parts of the Dead Sea were inaccessible but our local guide took us to the non-touristy areas of the sea. I experienced first hand the salinity of the sea, plucked out a huge chunk of salt and gave my self a free ‘Dead Sea – Spa Pedicure.’ I was amazed with the instant results. Merely rubbing the salt for seconds made my hands and feet super soft. After the Dead Sea experience, we checked into a hotel in Amman. I was amazed by the modernity, oozing richness and cleanliness of Amman, especially the Western side.
The morning after, I went to Jerash city from the Greco-Roman times. On my way, I had a delicious orange and pomegranate juice with a falafel sandwich. The ruins of Jerash are the largest reminders of the Roman times. Some state that Alexander the Great or his general Perdiccas founded the city for old soldiers.
Here in Jerash, I visited the remains of the Temple of Zeus, Artemis, Oval area, Hippodrome etc. I felt like with a little bit of fixing up, we in the present day could live like the Romans. To my comment, my guide said that the Jerash festival exactly does that. After hours of walking in the ruins of Roman land, we decided to head back to Amman. And sadly it dawned on me that we had reached the end of my trip.
I thoroughly enjoyed Jordan. I learned a lot. I was able to connect the missing pieces of my understanding through exploration of Jordan. This trip made me appreciate my limited time on the planet, and all the travelling I need to do. I also felt inundated with gratitude for all the comforts and blessings that modern life has to offer. On a more philosophical note, the nature in Jordan (Al Mujib) in particular made me realize the value of patience, and that sometimes it takes a million years to become the best, most beautiful you.
Finally, I would like to say, if you want to live a truly enriching experience, make some time and come to Jordan!