I am back! I completely appreciated the response from my first blog and enjoyed you all sharing your stories and engaging by asking questions. Keep them coming everyone! Well…I wanted to share with you the excursions I have been on thus far.
The very first weekend we were here we explored the Amman Citadel, which in Arabic is Jabal al-Qal’a. Our tour guide at the Citadel informed us of the rich history of Jordan, as the Citadel is one of the first signs of civilization. It contained civilizations and empires that prospered for 7,000 years and even has a museum on site. The Citadel symbolizes the birth of the three monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It has some of the best views of Amman and if you ever sit at a rooftop restaurant in one of the Circles ( There are 7 in Jordan) you can see the Temple of Hercules. It was breathtakingly beautiful and incredible to see how detailed they were able to make everything, even without modern day technology.
We kicked off the first weekend of October with a weekend trip to Petra and Wadi Rum. We left early Friday morning and spent most of the day in Petra. Petra is a historical and archaeological site in the Ma’an governorate of Jordan. We walked through the aqueduct system and saw an auditorium, tombs, temple and of course the famous site of the Treasury all carved right out of the stone. The Treasury (of Indiana Jones fame) is beautifully detailed, and the first view of it as we came around the corner at the end of the Sik (or ‘narrow strip’ of the aqueduct) was phenomenal. In the space in front of the Treasury, there were small children there selling postcards and jewelry in exchange for anything materialistic or monetary. It felt as if I was in a scene out of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Past the Treasury, we wandered some of the many stone staircases that allow you to hike all over Petra. There are tons of temples and tombs you can climb up to. Unfortunately, we only had a few hours to spend here, but we still managed to take in as much as we could! If you ever go to Petra I would recommend a week here! It is a rare world wonder that will take days to explore or hike if you want to fully take in and appreciate the beautifully handcrafted architecture and history behind the city.
Following our visit to Petra we rushed over to Wadi Rum, where we would be camping for the night, in order to see the sunset from the cliffs. We were told by our ISA program director, Mohammad, that we would not be riding camels to the cliffs for the sunset because they were too expensive. THAT LIAR! We slowly embarked on a journey across a small hill of sand dunes, exhausted from Petra and this trekking through an ocean of sand. As we came over the top of the hill, to our
surprise, 14 camels awaited us and we rode them off into the sunset. The ride was in my roommate Kate’s words, “The best and most terrifying thing ever!” The camels felt clumsy as they pulled up off the ground. All in all, it was an unforgettable rocky ride.
Once we reached the cliffs, we climbed up one of the cliffs for a better view. The sunset was so beautiful; we were left speechless, proof that is was absolutely amazing.
By the time we climbed back down and rode the camels back to the camp, we were ready to feast. Mohammad again tricked us by telling us we would only be having falafel sandwiches for dinner. Falafel is fine, except that is what we typically eat in town on a daily basis, so needless to say, we were a little tired of it. However, after unpacking our things in our tents, we received the call for dinner and were once again surprised! Instead of falafel, we were fed lamb and chicken that had been cooked in a special method by burying it underground. I am a vegan but from everyone’s reaction it was the tastiest meal they have had during this trip. After stuffing our faces, we practiced dancing the dabkeh and learned a little bit of bellydancing from Ghadeer, the other ISA program director. After the festivities, many of us crashed and others went on a starry night walk out into the desert til 2am.
The next day consisted of a truck driving tour through the desert and surrounding cliffs. We stopped every now and then for photo ops, to climb cliffs, view ancient scriptures and for tea at a little tourist camp site where many goods were sold. After the truck tours were through, so was our time at Wadi Rum. We were all excited to head home to sleep and take a shower after two days of non stop physical activity and sweating (we were really gross). We were so excited to go home but our trip was delayed as we received a sign that the desert enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed it: we got a flat tire not five minutes away from the camp. We made the most of it and decided to make sand angels and act as if we were dying in the desert to pass the time until the tire was replaced.
Overall, this was definitely an incredible weekend. It was amazing to be able to fully engage in the experience of all this ancient history: climbing into tombs, onto cliffs and touching scriptures without it being policed. In the States, most of this would likely be taped off, guarded and only appreciated from a distance.