We woke up early on the morning of July 16th, ready for exploring Jordan, which borders Israel. This leg of our trip was eye opening, inspiring, and thought provoking.
Crossing the border was a five hour event that included a ride in a mini bus with the twelve of us (our family, Teta, Bassam’s sister Randa along with Maroun and Chris, and Bassam’s niece Mira, and her husband Khraish and their special little ones Alex and Maria, who are the boys’ best playmates!). We loaded up, enjoyed a beautiful balcony breakfast send-off from relatives upstairs, enjoying a view of the Mediterranean, in the morning breeze, and then set off for the Jordanian border.
The border crossing involved several steps: security checks, passport checks, crossing fees, more passport checks, luggage checks, toilet breaks, duty free shops, the no-man’s-land two minute bus ride after an hour long wait (literally), passport checks, and then passport checks.
The rest of our journey took us past the Jordan River and through the towns along the roadway, to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is 400 meters below sea level! The air in the day is balmy and dry, and at night the wind is hot. The Dead Sea itself is a unique experience – a calm sea that you cannot swim in because the salt content is so high that a drop in your eye burns, and one in your mouth is nasty! But for the same reason, you can sit down in the water or lay on your back and just float. No treading or flotation device necessary! Random Roo enjoyed the adventure and risked the butt crack burn! He even rubbed the salt water on his lips. Yuck! Krazy Kid could not get past the initial tingling and burning….maybe he was still turned off because of his jellyfish incident. So he spent his time giving himself multiple Dead Sea mud treatments and covering every inch of his body….which was all good until he created mud boobs!
The resort we stayed at was spectacular, with awesome food, beautiful pools, luxury rooms, and amazing views. We swam, floated, ate, swam, floated, ate, swam, floated, ate…..a real unwind. A perfect way to relax.
After two nights, we parted ways, and the four of us ventured off to Petra – a place I have dreamed of visiting for many years….ever since Bassam told me about it when we met in 1997. We spent two nights, and 3 days in the region, and every moment of our time there a dream coming true for me. Absolutely incredible!!!
On the first day, we drove three hours through the Jordanian desert, checked into our hotel, and immediately left to go into Petra, with promises to the boys that we would check it out for a few hours and be back in time for a relieving swim at the hotel. Water bottles, snacks, camera, and four very excited people!
Only the photographs can tell the story….and even then do not do justice to the majesty of Petra. Awe inspiring structures… If you are interested in learning more about the fascinating history of Petra and how this ancient city was created, watch this video by National Geographic.
The boys were in heaven, finding caves to peak into or explore and playing, parkour style, on the rocks. They were real troupers and the adventurous spirit that we always fall in love with again and again, gave them the stamina to climb up to see interesting structures and keep going through the hours that slipped away unknowingly. We decided, after hiking up and down all afternoon and reaching the end of the map, that before heading back we would “go all the way” and take the steps up to the monestary – but by donkey!!! With our Bedouin guides we took the donkeys up, who are sure-footed but walk on the edge! Walking up would have been exhausting for the legs, but our upper bodies got a workout holding on.
When we reached the top we continued on by foot and followed the sign:
Little did we know that we would be greeted by some very friendly young Bedouin guys who offered us tea (delicious and sweet!) and tell us jokes. We were enjoying a well-needed break in their tent on the mats, and swapping stories with other travellers taking a similar rest so much that we stayed for sunset!
Downhill on donkey is even more unnerving! And the donkeys knew that had worked a long day, so they were rushing. Our guides who walked alongside us, directing their donkeys, shared their teachings with us on our way, pointed out the cave they lived in, spoke seemingly telepathically with the animals (dogs, mules, donkeys, camels everywhere!), and led us out as the night slowly came upon us.
After dropping us off at the treasury we continued the three kilometer end to our adventure through the gorge at night, under the stars. We were tired, sandy, sweaty and on top of the world! Holding hands in the night and already reminiscing about our day, we realized that the pool had long closed and we didn’t even care. (If you can imagine! Krazy Kid wasn’t even disappointed!) Almost through the gorge we heard loud steps approaching, and the beautiful sound of the flute echoing off the rocks. Random Roo decided that he was meant to be on a donkey, wanted to live with the Bedouins, and was willing to give up all his modern pleasures to live in Petra, where “everyone and everything lives in harmony”. That is the core of our Random Roo.
We arrived at our hotel, had showers in record time and took the elevator to the roof top to eat dinner on the terrace, surrounded by dry Jordanian air, sandstone mountains, and canopied by the stars. Ahhhhhhhhhh…..a good day…..and Our Cosmic Core felt connected in a new way, through our united love for our surroundings and a new understanding of each other.
The next day we took it easier, and chose some souvenirs from Petra and ate Bedouin food (mansaf). We also swam, slept, were awakened by morning prayer being sung out from over a dozen surrounding mosques, and wandered around to new heights inside Petra.
On our final day, before heading back to join everyone back at the Dead Sea for one more night, we went into Wadi Rum to check out the Bedouin community and experience a desert trek by camel. Super, super fun!!!!
Bassam took as many photographs as he could – over 1000 – and over the three days we were there we planned for him to get the best shots he could, which simultaneously allowed us to see Petra in many different times of the day: midday, evening, sunset, sunrise, and even the dark, under the stars.