We cross into Jordan for 3 days at the Allenby crossing, a short bridge over the Jordan River at the top of the Dead Sea. British General Allenby liberated the Holy Land from the Ottoman Turks in 1917. Dave thinks of his Yemenese friend Nassr who teaches in Riyadh now. Our tour bus transfer is a bit delayed – this is the first hiccup on this pilgrimage.
We head for the Jordanian hills. It is sunny, 23•C and very dry. We see some greener spaces but it’s a desert. Houses in communities are simple cinder block or concrete structures with flat roofs.. Our new guide is Joseph and he is very knowledgeable of scripture too. We climb and climb. Women are dressed in long black robes with a white head scarf. Men are dressed like us. We see 2 dromedaries (single hump camels).
We drive by Mt. Nebo, 1130m above the Dead Sea and reach Madaba: City of Mosaics. About 10% of Jordanians are Christian, but religion does not divide here – we are all Jordanians says Joseph. There are 9.5 million, 3 million of which are immigrants including 1.5 million Syrian refugees.
The St George Greek Orthodox Church is filled with beautiful mosaic images including the first geographic biblical map of the Middle East. We go to the Memorial Church of Moses on Mt Nebo. It is filled with beautidully preserved floor mosaics. Outside, Joseph points out the Dead Sea, the Jordan and the Promised Land as we gaze east. It is hazy so we cannot see Jerusalem today. We stop for lunch at a handicraft centre. We see a demonstration of how mosaic artwork is made. Then it’s a 3 hr drive south to our hotel in Petra.
It soon gets dark, We are on a semi-divided highway and it is bumpy. There are speed bumps seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The speed limit is 60 km. From time to time there are pretty green, red and blue lights. There are many crude oil tankers slowing things down further. It is authentic. There are further delays – bathroom breaks, ATM machine stops.
We finally arrive at our hotel at 8 PM. The Old Village Resort is beautiful. We have a delicious dinner of lamb, arab salads and fancy desserts. The journey continues tomorrow. Our prayers go out to you all.