Moments To Treasure In Jordan
Once a haven for visitors and an oasis for crusaders, now lay waiting for visitors to explore its jewels. The ever-increasing turmoil in neighbouring Syria has had a powerful impact on international travel to the country that is stuck in the middle of Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt and has had a long fight to retain its reputation as a stable destination.
Jordan has a heritage of welcoming visitors: camel caravans plied the legendary King’s Highway transporting frankincense in exchange for spices while Nabataean tradesmen and Roman legionnaires all passed through the land, leaving behind impressive monuments.
This was our first-ever trip to the Middle East, and we honestly had no idea what to expect. After exploring the beautiful country, it is easy to see why it’s one of our all-time favourite destinations. We headed into the beautiful chromatic destination to explore the best of the old-world charm of the Hashemite kingdom hidden within the 20th-century hustle and bustle.
Many of us know of Petra from the scene in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ where Indy rides through a narrow passageway surrounded by stone only to arrive at an ancient building carved right into the mountains. As children, we had no idea that the place actually existed. But lo and behold it does.
As we emerged from the shaded interior of the Siq into the blazing sun of Petra, we saw the Treasury — a perfectly symmetrical Hellenic-style tomb carved into the rough, red cliff face. But there was more to be uncovered, beyond the entrance and the flanking canyon by the Treasury, an entire valley revealed itself. Archaeologists believe that most of Petra is still hidden underneath the soil and is only being discovered bit by bit even today.
Originally known as Gerasa antiquity, the ancient Greco-Roman ruins of Jerash, Jordan are located near the mountains about 30 miles north of Amman. Jerash should not be overlooked for its size or relative obscurity. The city encompasses a sprawling site of Roman ruins, including two theatres, a temple to Artemis, and a forum surrounded by more than 100 columns. Given its lack of star status, this secret jewel is often free of the crowds that swarm to Petra. As devoted fans of archaeology, we enjoyed the day at the site. Our guide Zaid told us that an earthquake damaged Jerash and buried its remains in the sand in 749 A.D, though restorers were able to maintain and reconstruct an extraordinary number of the original structures. The main attraction is a forum surrounded by 160 columns, giving it the nickname ‘the city of columns.’
Though the name had us startled, it only gave a boost to the curious mind of the traveller. There are no plants, fish, or any other visible life in the sea. Its high salt concentration is a staggering 33.7 per cent, 8.6 times saltier than ocean water, which is only about 3.5 per cent salt. Located at the lowest point on earth, the water does not let one sink and is highly buoyant. Besides the supremely odd but completely wonderful feeling of bobbing around in the water, the Dead Sea is believed to have healing properties. Its salt has been used to treat psoriasis and eczema, and it is harvested and shipped all over the world for use in beauty products and home remedies.
But the gold is its nutrient-rich mud surrounding the sea, which creates an all-natural spa treatment. There are mud buckets set up at resorts along the shore where we slathered ourselves in black, sulfur-smelling mud, layout to dry in the hot sun, and got into the sea to clean ourselves off. The natural face and body mask left our skin feeling silky soft.
Sitting in the back of an open truck, the views were unobstructed. Nothing to take away from absorbing the vast, red landscape of Wadi Rum. But, being old school and inspired by films we decided to travel on camel backs for the journey ahead. Fawad and Marzouk, our camel riders took us around the Roman Valley surrounded by sandstone monoliths, sand dunes, ancient rock carvings, watering holes, and valleys full of sheep and camels.
Known as the ‘valley of the moon’ for good reason, the area’s natural intrigue is endless. As the majority of the residents of Wadi Rum are bedouins, we got our share of the authentic cultural experience of a traditional nomadic lifestyle from the tribe members.
During the sunset, the sand almost changed its colour leaving it even more reddish than it was during the day. The day came to a halt and our guide made tea over an impromptu fire. As our day had been in freezing temperatures, he added thyme to the tea which grows in abundance all over Wadi Rum. Thus, making it the perfect ending to a perfect trip.