Under the Western Wall

One of the most eye opening things that we did this whole trip was tonight,
on our last night.  Abraham helped us set up a tour of the tunnels that run underneath the Muslim Quarter, along the Western Wall.  The part of the Western Wall that we see in pictures and from above is actually only a tiny piece of what is actually an enormous side of the Temple Mount, the giant platform that the ancient temple used to sit on.

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The Mount of Olives & Bethlehem

For our last day, we started out by visiting the Mount of Olives.  The Mount of Olives is a mountain (well, it’s more of a hill) opposite the Old City, overlooking most of the Muslim quarter.  The entire mountainside is covered with an enormous Jewish cemetery, facing down towards the Western Wall.  The cemetery is extremely important, and the Jews were very eager to take over that land and build a cemetery so that their people could be buried as close as possible to the “Holy of Holies”.

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Wadi Rum

I’m hoping to let the photos do the talking today, because I really have no words.  (Plus, I’m super tired, and sitting in one of the most comfortable beds of my life).

We left Petra this morning at 9 with Ra’ed guiding us and Maher at the wheel.  It was about an hour drive to Wadi Rum, and the road wound through mountains and valleys to get there.  While leaving the Petra region, Maher pulled over to show us a view of Petra from above.  It was almost impossible to see it from above, which is incredible considering the size of the things we saw yesterday, and explains why Petra was lost to the world for 500 years.

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البترا (Petra)

Our first glimpses of the TreasuryIt’s hard to put to words everything we saw and experienced today.  Petra, in all its glory, exceeded every expectation I had of it.  People always say you have to see it to believe it, and there’s nothing more true.  The feeling of walking through the winding sik only to emerge upon the Treasury is something that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.  WHAT a day.

Both Dad and I woke up really early this morning, apparently feeling lasting effects of jet-lag.  It ended up being sort of nice, though, because it gave us the chance to wake up slowly and take our time.  I read a bit of Queen Noor’s book, which I’m about three quarters through, but had to give up because the concussion wasn’t very happy with me. Dad and I got ready, then wandered downstairs for breakfast, which was delicious.

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Amman, Madaba, and Mount Nebo

I am currently sitting in my hotel room right across the street from the entrance gates to PETRA.  Even with the call to prayer playing through our windows, it’s hard to believe that I am literally steps away from one of the most incredible wonders of the world.  The site is closed for the night; otherwise, I’d be out exploring.  I’m itching to be staring up at the famous Treasury!

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فل و خبز

Foul!
Foul!

The title of this post means “Foul and Bread”, pronounced “Fool wa khubz”, and is what I ate for breakfast!  Dad and I both woke up around 6am, jet-lag giving us some extra time to get ready this morning for our 9am tour.  Dad went to the gym, so after I got ready I wandered downstairs for breakfast!  It was held in this beautiful dining room, where last night there had been a USAid conference.  When we walked by last night I had to try so hard not to sneak in to listen!  We talk so much about USAid in my program, and it would have been so incredible to see a real conference go down.  Anyways, I was greeted by several of the incredibly hospitable servers, and was led to a table where they offered me Jordanian coffee (much like our coffee, but from Jordan, I guess) and was introduced to a beautiful buffet.

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We made it!

We’re here!! I’m sitting in the Four Seasons Amman on the tallest of Amman’s seven hills, snacking on “Cold Mezze”, a large platter of food that welcomed Dad and I when we entered the room.  The houmus is incredible, and Jordinian tabouleh is incredible, but my favourite part so far is this sort of paste, similar to houmus, that I’m piling on to hard pitas with mint leaves and olives.  Amman is beautiful.  Well, from outside my window, that is.  We haven’t had a chance to explore quite yet, but witnessed some of the impressive scenery out of the car window as Maher, our driver for the week, wound his way through the hills that Amman is so famous for in the Arab world.

We arrived in Amman at ten to four, local time, after a comfortable flight from Heathrow.  I slept most of the way, at that point having been awake for 30 hours.  As we landed, I pulled up the window shields and watched the most unique landscape I have ever seen pass us by.  I feel like we talk about the desert as though it’s one single thing, but already I’m learning that “desert” is very much a blanket term for anything a little bit dry.  The ground was orange for as far as I could see, with enormous cracks cutting through its vibrant colour.  Little white buildings were scattered about it, all looking very similar.  As we got closer, I caught a glimpse of that I was sure was the city of Amman.  Little white buildings seemed to spill out from between hillsides with no semblance of structure at all.  From the air Amman looked like nothing I had ever seen before: a sentiment I would later find reinforced on land.

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