Our tour guide joked that Jordan wants to be the 51st state in America. Because the country has no natural resources (unlike the rest of the Middle East, they don’t have oil), they rely heavily on foreign aid and tourism.
Foreign countries build specialized schools and universities to encourage development in the area. The schools are usually expensive, but students can get scholarships.
Jordan also takes in any and all refugees, despite the lack of money and resources.
A Note on Changed Plans & Security:
Everyone wants to know about security, but we felt completely safe the whole time. Israel has a really strong military, so people don’t mess with them too much. Jordan requires a Tourism Police Officer on the bus with us at all times… mostly because the highway has a checkpoint what felt like every two miles, and the officer just waved us through. I think if we didn’t have him on board, they might have checked our passports every time.
However, we originally planned to visit Egypt after Jordan for a few hours and climb Mount Sinai.
Unfortunately, a terrorist attack occurred in Egypt on Palm Sunday (the day before we went to Jordan). Israel told all citizens to leave Egypt, so we decided not to go. Especially since we would only be there for a few hours: Our schedule included waking up at 2am to ride up Mount Sinai and then maybe we would get back in time for a breakfast before flying out to Tel Aviv… The risk wasn’t worth it.
We don’t usually make decisions based on these kind of issues, because you just can’t live in fear. I know people don’t visit Israel and Jordan because of fear, but we never felt threatened on this trip. I hate to see people not experience another culture because they’re afraid of it.
Our change of plans actually worked out really well, and we had 2 amazing experiences that we would have missed otherwise.
If you have the opportunity to visit Jordan, you really really should go. Ok, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves 🙂
Where We Stayed
So… this place has potential and a great view… but the rooms were dirty, and it sounds like they just don’t have the money to pay staff here. They don’t have key cards for the rooms! It was a lock and key on the door! I don’t know when I’ve seen that last…
However, when we had a problem with the shower (it sprayed in ALL DIRECTIONS), they did fix it immediately.
Jordan allows smoking in all the buildings, so that probably adds to the dirty feeling.
This hotel was one of the nicer ones of the whole trip. Since you can’t drink the water in Jordan, they would charge $4/bottle in the hotel dining room… when the convenience store next door was less than $1…. but they wouldn’t let you bring your outside bottle into the dining room. Understandable, but still inconvenient. However, the room was fairly clean, and they offered a good breakfast/dinner.
Many consider Jerash the second best preserved Roman city other than Rome. So we saw a lot of Roman cities in Israel, but Jerash was amazing!! The city was never conquered (I think people left after an earthquake), and slowly the sand covered and preserved everything.
Eventually, bedouins settled on the other side of the river and destroyed some ruins, but they didn’t touch the other side. The sand completely covered the columns so only the tops showed. Archeologists have done quite a lot of work!
And how cool is it that we can just walk around the ruins??
Dancing with one of the school girls in the amphitheatre!
Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. And the LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there. Deut 34:1-4
Petra was just the coolest place we visited on the whole trip. The Nabatean civilization carved all of the buildings into the stone, and they engineered dams so the flash floods wouldn’t destroy the city. It is called the Red Rock City, and the colors were amazing. Our hotel had a beautiful view of the mountains.
view from the hotel
Yes, the “Treasury of Petra” is in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I think in the movie, there’s a whole city inside… it’s just a tomb or temple maybe. Other tombs lined the ridges of the mountain. I loved the variation of color in the rocks!
The shadows from the canyon-like Siq kept everyone cool while walking through. But it is the desert, so it was hot in the sun. If you plan on visit, definitely go in March/April before it gets too hot out.
Eric and one of the other teammates bought head scarves… a bedouin shepherd kid told him the scarf looked bad and asked to fix it. “No, I don’t want any money. It looks really bad, and I will fix it.” – literally what the kid said haha
And another set of photos, because they’re just ALL SO GOOD! You can tell the difference between Roman and Nabatean buildings, because Romans cut individual stones to build free standing structures. The Nabateans carved the facade directly into the rock.
I was not expecting SO MANY CAMELS everywhere!! Since the trail is three miles long, the locals offer camel and donkeys rides. Of course, they can easily scam tourists, so just be very firm about your numbers and include tip in your price. Our guide told us exactly what to expect so we wouldn’t have any problems.
Also, don’t tell them “maybe later” when they ask if you want a camel ride. They will follow you around with the camel waiting for you to pay them… I just took a lot of photos of the camels 🙂
This was the day we were supposed to spend the day driving to Egypt. Instead, we did some other fun things in Aqaba! This day felt the most like a vacation and less like an educational field trip 🙂
First, we made our way to the Wadi Rum desert for an open truck ride! We visited a few sand dunes, a bedouin camp (where they served tea) and then ate lunch at the Hillawi Camp… So cool! I thought there would be more sand dunes, but the mountains were such a different type of landscape.
And this is where we rode the camels! They charged less and the ride was longer. Also, what a cool setting for camel photos!
Gulf of Aqaba
I’m not sure why – but of course, the day we travel to the desert, it rains. We made it to the glass-bottom boat ride in the bay and checked out some of the coral. Jordan has only one access to water – the Gulf of Aqaba :/ They share it with Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia… A lot of military boats float around delineating the border.
Crossing the border back to Israel
We set out early to cross the border from Jordan into Israel at Eliat, and then fly from Eliat up to Tel Aviv. We were very concerned about delays, but we didn’t have any…. and then we just waited in the airport for a long time…
Customs asked a lot of questions because they thought it was strange that Americans were traveling with Australians. We had crossed the border several times by this point, and got used to these questions.
You actually walk across the border here…
Fly to Tel Aviv
We flew in a little prop plane up to the Tel Aviv… the flight attendant didn’t really speak English and the airport was making announcements only in Hebrew, but we asked enough questions and made it where we were going.
Then we flew home and landed at 4:30 on Good Friday. We were exhausted, but went to church to the Good Friday service at church that night.
We did fly United, but didn’t have any problems 🙂
And that’s it!! Hope you enjoyed this little overview of Jordan! Have you ever been there? Is it on your list now??