Day 15 - Jordan
|Saturday, November 29, 2014: The sun was just hitting the Sharah mountains of Petra as we went to the restaurant for the morning buffet. This photo was taken from a terrace just outside the restaurant.
|There is an excavation display just off the lobby in the reception area of the hotel. The hotel was created on the site of an old village called Taybeh and some of the original village's structures were incorporated into its design.
|We checked out, visited an ATM on our way out of town, and got another photo from the lookout point before moving on.
|We were heading to Wadi Rum next.
|A little more than an hour later, we were at our Wadi Rum tour stop, where we used the restroom and got checked in for our tour.
|Next, we met our tour driver and got into the 4x4.
|Off we went. We passed a large herd of camels, ...
|... then fields where migrant workers were harvesting tomatoes.
|Then we got off the road and started driving across the Wadi Rum desert.
|We were moving at a quick pace, enjoying the scenery, ...
|... when we encountered a car stuck in the sand.
|Our driver and Tom got out to help rescue them, but were unsuccessful. Two of the three men were armed with Glock handguns. The story we eventually heard was that the driver was close to King Abdullah II of Jordan, and had gotten a new vehicle and wanted to take it for a spin in the desert.
|While the men worked on that, Debbie got a photo of this large beetle making his way across the dunes, presumably looking for dung to transport.
|Next, we drove to this scenic overlook where things got a little terrifying. We got out to take photos.
|Then our tour guide started his truck, and insisted repeatedly that Tom drive it to the bottom ...
|... of this very, very steep hill while he ran to the bottom. Tom had repeatedly refused but evidently our driver didn't believe him ...
|... because he looked surprised that he was having to climb back up the hill. Debbie didn't even want to drive down the hill with a qualified driver behind the wheel because it seemed really very dangerous.
|So, we continued to do what we thought we were there to do -- take pictures of the scenery ...
|... and of ourselves enjoying the scenery. We did end up driving down that steep hill and it was terrifying.
|As our heart rates returned to normal, we stopped to see some petroglyphs.
|Here are some more.
|Next, we made a completely unexpected stop at a Bedouin tent. It hadn't been mentioned in the tour description so we were surprised that we ended up spending 45 minutes of two hour tour on this activity.
|Our Bedouin host was just starting the fire for tea, so we had some time to kill before it was ready. Rather than staying in the tent and getting smoke in our eyes, we asked if we could walk around a bit to sight-see.
|We found various tracks in the sand, ranging from small bird and rodent tracks to these large camel tracks.
|Here's a nice scenic photo.
|Here's the view looking back toward the tent when we decided to head back.
|Our Bedouin host spoke no English so our guide made some small talk with us. He also brought us souvenirs one by one, including tying the traditional keffiyeh of the Bedouins on Tom's head and rubbing amber on Debbie's hands. It became clear that selling these souvenirs was how the Bedouin was paid for this hospitality, so we had to buy some when we left.
|When the tea was finally ready, we each had a small cup of it.
|While we drank, the Bedouin played and sang a song on this traditional instrument.
|Finally, the whole awkward experience was over and we were heading back.
|We passed a lone camel.
|It was quite bumpy but also a little fun driving over the sand dunes.
|Our awesome Bundlings weather luck happened again when we got to see and drive through a mild sandstorm.
|Next, we visited the Wadi Rum train station with the slogan "Journey through 1916."
|The station is the home of this old steam train. It was used in the filming of "Lawrence of Arabia," and flew the Turkish flag. All of the desert scenes in the movie were filmed in the Wadi Rum area.
|We returned to the tour starting point and purchased some refreshments ...
|... and snacks for the next leg of our drive. These delicious chips were chilli and lemon-flavored.
|Our next destination was the Dead Sea, and to get there, we had to drive to Aqaba. We didn't expect to see Aqaba so we were quite happy with this turn of events.
|How many countries do you see here? Three. Jordan straight ahead, Israel on the right, and Egypt across the water in the distance. Saudi Arabia is about 10 miles down the coast to the left.
|Speaking of Israel, that's the Israeli city of Eilat in the distance. Once we got to Aqaba, we started heading back north on the road to the Dead Sea.
|So, now we're driving north. The mountains are Israel. The Jordan-Israel border is visible in the distance marked with a line of trees (not to be confused with the trees along the side of the road closer up).
|More Israel off to our left.
|To our right, we saw the back of the mountains of Petra.
|More pretty Jordanian scenery.
|We passed quite a few farms. This one featured sunflowers among other crops.
|We were clearly in the land of salt by now.
|We were also still very much in the land of police checkpoints. By now, they made us a little less nervous but we still tensed up each time.
|Although we were passing a large, salty body of water, it wasn't quite the Dead Sea yet. It was a large series of sectioned off water where salt was being mined, owned by the Dead Sea Arab Potash company.
|Big, big grains of salt.
|When we got to the southeast coast of the Dead Sea, we got out to take some pictures.
|A rock formation claimed by some to be Lot's wife was on the hill behind us.
|Here's more of the Dead Sea coastline.
|The road soon was covered with advertisements and banners for Dead Sea resorts, along with another checkpoint. Up ahead was truck hauling tomatoes.
|We did a U-turn near the Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort & Spa, ...
|... but pulled into the Amman Beach Tourism Resort for our visit.
|It was a lovely facility with a gorgeous pool, a beach, restrooms, showers, and a gift shop.
|We were starving so we headed immediately for the restaurant ...
|... and had another Middle Eastern buffet lunch.
|Next, we rented towels, changed into our swimsuits, and headed down to the beach.
This sign gave some basic safety instructions:
|There were probably 20 other people along the edge of the water so it was fairly deserted. Here's the view of the beach looking back toward the resort area above.
|At the edge of the water, we could see layers and layers of salt.
|Here's a closeup for you.
|Debbie was the first one in. The water was shallow for a very long distance, so she stopped when the water was about two feet deep. Walking through the water, the water seemed no different than any other ocean.
|But once she sat down in the water, she was immediately effortlessly buoyant. It was a very cool feeling.
|Next was Tom's turn while Debbie handled the camera.
|Tom's a fan too!
|We copied some of the other beachgoers by putting our chairs in the water ...
|... so we could soak our feet.
|We decided that floating in the Dead Sea was so much fun we wanted to do it again, so we did. Here's Debbie ...
|... and here's Tom.
|Then we showered, changed, and spent a little time enjoying the sunset before it was time to go.
|Soon we were off again.
|It was a little more than an hour drive back to Amman.
|We checked in once again at the Regency Palace Hotel in Amman.
|We had dinner at the incredibly extensive buffet at the Al Madafa Restaurant. Seriously, this was probably the largest selection of foods we had ever seen on a buffet.
|We ate and ate and ate, but had to save room for ...
|... the absolutely gorgeous dessert buffet.
We returned to our room where a fruit plate and welcome letter were waiting for us. We packed and got to bed as quickly as we could because our 4:30 pick up time would be here soon.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy