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Journal #37 - Jordan

Two camels and a donkey standing in front of one of the ancient Petra buildings carved into the rock face
Petra Camels by Mrs. Wanderer

Salaam Alaikum from Jordan! 

This visit was a thrilling adventure. We predominantly stayed in Amman, but took excursions to several truly amazing sights including Petra, Wadi Rum, the Red Sea, and the Dead Sea. This was a return trip for Mr. Wanderer, so he got to show me around all of the fascinating and unique things that made him fall in love with Jordan on his first visit. We saw some beautiful sights and thoroughly enjoyed some of the unique landscapes that developed here. 

Curved stone seating
Amman Roman Theatre by Mrs. Wanderer

To begin Mr. Wanderer showed me where he had visited the Roman Theatre. We also ate at several of the restaurants he got to try the last time. Owing to his experience, he was able to time a visit to the Citadel right at sunset so that we could get some beautiful portraits with the golden light reflecting on the ruins. This came with the added side effect of spectacular views across the entire city. The city appears densely packed, giving the impression that buildings are growing out of other buildings. This is because Amman is spread out over the hillside, so you can see each successive row of buildings as they loom over each other.  

Dilapidated stones against a setting sun
Citadel Ruins by Mr. Wanderer

Now, one stop that we could not miss was our visit to Petra. The site is a Wonder of the World, so we knew we were in for a treat when we came here. What I was not expecting was how vast the whole complex was. Everyone always shares the same picture of The Treasury (Al-Khazneh); and, enough children were trying to give us a tour up to the “Indiana Jones spot” that I understood why that is the famous photo. There was so much more though. We got to see an amphitheater and multiple built-out rooms. The stonework was equally impressive on several of the other structures and their coloring was so varied you would think that it had been finger-painted by a child.

Iconic two story carved structure out of the orange rock face with columns and statues in tact
The Treasury (Al-Khazneh) by Mrs. Wanderer

After Petra, we visited Wadi Rum. Familiar with it only as a film location, we walked in only expecting there to be red sand. The beauty of the sandstone formations and wadis tucked away was breathtaking. Right at sunset, we climbed one of the stones and sat there, just the two of us, looking out 360 degrees at absolutely no other person, just rich red sand.  

We spent the night in Wadi Rum, doing what is unofficially called “Glamping” which is a portmanteau for glamor camping. This involved beds inside of tents and access to warm showers. The best part of this experience was at night, after dining on authentically cooked Bedouin cuisine and dancing with the men responsible for bringing us there, we retired to drink tea by the campfire. At this time, Mr. Wanderer and I walked out into the sand, away from the light, and took in the inky sky aglow with millions of stars. Here we tried our hand at some astrophotography. It was peaceful and beautiful. Waking up on land that looks like it could be Mars (especially since it was filmed as the setting in The Martian and Dune) felt otherworldly. We could not recommend this experience enough. Mr. Wanderer and I truly loved it. 

Red-orange sand from a rocky outcrop
Wadi Rum by Mr. Wanderer

As if these experiences were not enough, we added on even more before returning to Amman. This involved driving further south to Aqaba. There, we hopped on a boat and snorkeled in the Red Sea. Our guide brought us to a sunken plane and let us dive around a reef that had formed out of a sunken WWI Turkish warship. After a night in the sand, it was delightful to float on turquoise water and look out over the Jordanian, Israeli, and Egyptian coastlines all in one vista.  

Marine life visible under turquoise water
Red Sea Reef by Mr. Wanderer

Then, to top the whole experience off, we headed north to the Dead Sea. I knew that it was easy to float here because of its high salinity, but that is an understatement. If you walked out past thigh height your feet literally bounced out from under you. We were so buoyant that I could stand up completely straight in water too deep to touch, without kicking my feet, and I would naturally rest with my entire torso out of the water.

There are recommendations about how long to spend in the sea and how you should enter the water backward. I, in my naivete, took these to be more like guidelines. In reality, I should have listened. I treated the Dead Sea like any other body of water and I dove in, face first. This is a major NO-NO. That is TOO much salt for your poor eyes. It burned, badly, and there is nothing you can do to make it go away. Your hands and arms are also dripping in the oily salty seawater. If you are not so dumb as to ignore the recommendations like I was, then the experience can be relaxing. The spot where we stopped had a whole tub of Dead Sea Mineral Mud for us to scrub across our bodies. We used the exfoliator and treated it like another spa day - once I had recovered.

Colorful rocks under colorless water
The Dead Sea by Mrs. Wanderer

This whole trip was incredibly stunning. Truly, there are few nations or excursions we have taken that were more unique and beautiful. The only blemish on our whole visit was the fact that we had to leave a little early. Our trip to Jordan took place this past October. While we were there, Israel's and Palestine's tensions escalated, dramatically. While Jordan was not involved, we could see the Israeli border from where we were traveling. So, for our potential safety and the peace of mind of our families, we wound up departing earlier than planned. We, thankfully, were able to progress swiftly to the birthplace nation of Saint Nicholas (aka Santa Claus). Any guesses where we are off to next? 

Red rock theater carved into the environment
Petra Theater by Mrs. Wanderer