After Lebanon (see Blog) and Syria (see Blog) I traveled through Jordan where it was winter and snowed a few times in Amman and Petra. I was overwhelmed by people saying ‘Welcome to Jordan’ and considering the location (between Israel, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia) the people seemed very calm and relaxed. Jordan has become a peaceful nation and seeks stability in the region thanks to King Abdullah an Oxford graduate and Queen Rania an outspoken advocate of women's rights. After spending the last five months in Islamic countries (not to mention Indonesia and Malaysia last year) I have seen that Muslims are not the ‘death to the infidels’ type that our governments and media lead us to believe. Most of them are very inviting and willing to help in any way.
I started on Mount Nebo where the Bible (Deuteronomy 34) says Moses was shown the ‘Promised Land’ and then died. After that was the Dead Sea which is the lowest point on earth at 1,400 feet below sea level and the second saltiest body of water in the world at 33% salinity (almost 10 times more than most oceans). As we descended toward the shore the temperature shot up by 15°F. The Dead Sea's climate offers year-round sunny skies with low pollution, weakened ultraviolet radiation (particularly the UVB), and an atmosphere characterized by a high oxygen content due to the high barometric pressure. No wonder it was the site of the worlds first health resort (for Herod the Great).
Next I headed to Petra, a complete city carved into the mountains by the Nabateans before the birth of Christ. Al Khazneh (known as the Treasury) made famous by Indiana Jones has been designated as one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World". Petra was rediscovered for the western world by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. I just felt lucky to get a picture in front without the typical pile of tourists.
I made my way down to the deserts of Wadi Rum and finally to the port of Aqaba where I caught a ferry to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt (see Africa Blog).