My trip to Jordan was at the kind invitation of the Jordan Tourism Board, and they made sure I had plenty of time to do everything on my wish list. The experience was an amazing one and fostered an instant and intense love for this Middle Eastern nation so rich in history and natural beauty. Even though I loved so many of my experiences in Jordan, there are five individual moments that really stand out.
1. Petra Mountains at Sunrise – Petra was a special place for a lot of reasons, but I had my first inkling of what was to come with this stunning sunrise looking over the Petra mountains. Within these ancient mountains lie canyons and crevices which have been used for millennia by a variety of civilizations for their position and unique ability to offer protection. More than the defensive importance of these mountains, this view from my hotel room, enjoyed with a cup of coffee, was when I first started to really appreciate the beauty of the desert landscape. I hadn’t visited Wadi Rum yet and had no idea that an area so barren could be so enchanting. That’s a morning I would gladly relive again and again.
2. Dead Sea Storm – I love water, even salty water that leaves the bather doused with a thin layer of oil. It was my second visit to the Dead Sea and I welcomed the opportunity to relax after a busy week touring Jordan. I was one of the first at the beach that morning due in part to the hour and the storm which threatened the seaside bathers. I was alone in my thoughts as I looked across the Sea into Israel and marveled at how beautiful an angry sky can really be.
3. Wadi Rum Bedouin Tent - Wadi Rum wasn’t what I expected. I’m not sure what it was exactly I thought the high desert would be like, but Wadi Rum wasn’t it. This vast desert wonderland was replete with sometimes subtle, most times ostentatious natural beauty in all colors and hues. Before joining the Jeep safari into the hinterlands, my guide, driver and I spent some time relaxing in the large Bedouin tent, escaping the late afternoon sun. The conversation lapsed from English to Arabic and back to English and covered all topics from the weather to Trip Advisor. (universal I guess) More than just a nice way to relax after the 12km hiked earlier in the day at Petra, it was a genuine moment. No one was pretending to be anything they weren’t, it was just a group of people from fantastically different backgrounds all enjoying one of the great natural treasures of the world.
4. Bakery near Madaba – Food was a key component of my adventures in Jordan and may have been the single most important part of the trip. The food was delicious, simple and plentiful which is good since I appeared to have an insatiable appetite during my stay. On the drive to the curious town of Madaba, we stopped at a local bakery to pick up a kilo of bread to keep us going through lunch. These pop up bakeries are everywhere and are as basic as you can get, just an oven and a place to store the bread before selling out every day. It was easy to get spoiled by the copious amounts of fresh, savory bread that could have constituted a meal in its own right. We stopped at this particular bakery to talk with the master baker and learn a little bit more about how he creates the delicious goodness every day.
5. Thermal Waterfalls of Ma’in – Simply said, Ma’in was a welcome respite. I knew the area was famous for its thermal pools, but no one told me how calm and peaceful it was. It was a comforting feeling, not being expected to do anything except relax. There were no ruins, museums or local sites to explore. The entire purpose of Ma’in is to rejuvenate in one of their many spas and relax with the strange hot waterfalls crashing down about one’s shoulders. After a dip in this thermal pool. I promptly found a chair and fell into a deep sleep born of total and complete contentment.
Have you been to Jordan? What was one of your favorite moments? Even if you haven’t been, what’s something you would like to see or do?