Saturday, March 5, 2016

Crossing the Border to Jordan


Had a lovely dinner last night with Nachum. He took us to a fish restaurant on the Dan River. Since they raise their own trout, we ordered grilled trout. Very fresh, very yummy.

Could not ask for better weather. We were off by a little after 8 am to our fourth country. Got a glimpse of  hyrax family taking in the morning sun on the basalt rocks. Amazingly enough, they are cousin to the elephant. Great views of Tiberius over the Sea of Galilee. And traveled over the widest part of the Jordan River -- not so wide, as it turns out.

The border crossing is a lot of shuffling papers and security.  I wanted a picture of us with our new friend, Nachum. No pictures allowed. So Nachum being Nachum ran and got special permission to take a picture as long as there were no workers in the background. We made it through customs and security and he put us on the bus to travel about 500 feet to the other side to Jordan. Here our new guide, Omar met us and handled all of the paperwork on this side. More security checks and finally we were through and into Jordan.
Welcome to Jordan
The drive through the countryside was absolutely beautiful. The Jordan Valley is very plush and green. Omar is full information and the more we drove the more we got to know one another. Looks like we will get along just fine. Our first stop was the Ajlun Castle where we ran into a tv shoot for Abu Dabi TV.

Ajloun Castle also known as Qa'lat ar-Rabad, is a 12th-century Muslim castle situated in northwestern Jordan. It is placed on a hilltop belonging to the Jabal Ajlun ("Mount Ajlun") district, also known as Jabal 'Auf after a Bedouin tribe which had captured the area in the 12th century. From its high ground the castle was guarding three wadiswhich descend towards the Jordan Valley. It was build by the Ayyubids in the 12th century and enlarged by the Mamluks in the 13th.

The name 'Ajlun goes back to a Christian monk who lived on this mountain in the Byzantine Period. The castle stands on the ruins of a monastery, traces of which were discovered during archaeological excavations.
We went to lunch before our next stop. The ancient ruins of  Decapolis in Jerash.  We weren't exactly thrilled at visiting more ruins but this place was truly awesome. Entering the theater, we heard bagpipes and drums - another good welcome. In the center of the theater, there an indentation called the echo spot. Talking from here, you can be heard from anywhere in the audience - no mic needed. You hear yourself echoing back as well. Pretty nifty.
Jerash is the site of the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa, also referred to
as Antioch on the Golden River. Ancient Greek inscriptions from the city as well as literary sources from both Iamvichou and the Great Etymology establish the foundation of the city as being by Alexander the Great or his general Perdiccas, who settled aged Macedonian soldiers there Gerasmenos means aged person in Greek. This took place during the spring of 331 BC, when Alexander left Egypt, crossed Syria and then went to Mesopotamia. It is sometimes misleadingly referred to as the "Pompeii of the Middle East or Asia", referring to its size, extent of excavation and level of preservation (though Jerash was never buried by a volcano). Jerash is considered one of the most important and best preserved Roman cities in the Near East. It was a city of the Decapolis.
It was also nice seeing local people enjoying the sites. Not too many tourists. When we first arrived at the site, someone came up to us and said "Are you the guys I met in Istanbul?". We had talked to this man while we were walking around Hagia Sophia, he was taking pictures of one of the stray dogs. Turns out he is originally from Cambridge, MA. Now, here we are in Jordan, of all places, and we meet again!  Apparently, he works at the embassy here and lives in Jordan. What are the odds? Such a small world.

Time to check-in to our new hotel in Amman. Another bustling city -- nowhere near Cairo -- and hardly any honking. Going to eat at the hotel buffet. Not sure if we will venture out or not - my guess, probably not.

Next time.... Exploring Amman


1 comment:

  1. Hey Guys
    If I may digress, tanks are fun I've been in one. I'm probably around same age as Nachum as I was in the Army 65-67 with the Petroleum Distribution Command, Europe (jet fuel pipeline runs from N. France Le Harve, to the tip of the Italian Boot) and was sent to NATO base in Sicily during 6 day war. If it lasted any longer I was going to be sent to Israel / Syria. The photos of the Syrian countryside is so sad there is war going on.
    I'm sure treking around the ruins can be tiresome, however, you've been to some very interesting and unusual places.
    Lookin forward to Amman.