During my 5 week stay in Israel with a volunteer organization, we got one week of independent travel. I stayed at a hostel in Jerusalem called Abraham Hostel. They offer great tours and so I booked about 3 or 4. One of them was a two day trip to Jordan! It is called Petra 2-Days Tour from Jerusalem and it cost me about 1130 NIS. The tour starts off in the cities of Jerash and Amman (Jordan's capital) and so I decided to share a post about what I saw and experienced. I will leave Petra for another time as there is a story that goes with that adventure.
I am going to start with a quick journal excerpt here, as I jotted down a bit of information about Jordan.*
7:00 a.m. Day 30.
Today I am visiting Jordan! It is a two day tour and we will be spending the night in a Bedouin Camp. I have just crossed the border which took a bit (not surprising). Apparently one has to pay an exit fee to leave Israel and an entry fee to enter Jordan (surprising).
I am not sure why. However I definitely messed up because silly me didn't think and got her passport stamped by the Israeli border service... When you enter Israel they kindly give you a little piece of paper that acts like an entry stamp, however I guess when you cross by land they stamp your passport. Now this normally wouldn't be an issue for me, but as someone who is fascinated by the Middle East and has plans to travel to places like Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan eventually, I now have to wait until I get a new passport.
But let's not focus on the negative, I am in Jordan!!!!
Here are some interesting facts:
-Jordan has a 97 percent literacy rate
-in every village, no matter how small, there is a clinic and two schools (one for boys and one for girls). Even in isolated areas the government makes sure there is a teacher and a school. They even pay the teachers salary and will pay them more to live in isolated areas.
I was really happy to learn that. We are currently on our way to Jerash and Amman to see some ancient ruins and learn a little history. We will camp for the night in a Bedouin camp and then tomorrow we will head off to Petra!!
Jerash is home to a large Roman city complex (roads, temples). Originally Alexander the Great had the city built but when the Roman's invaded they changed everything to the Roman design.
The Romans remained there until the fourth century when they converted to Christianity and the Byzantine Age took over. This lasted until the Islamic Age in 638 CE. Umayad settled in Jarash (Jerash) in 661 and turned some of the Roman buildings into houses for soldiers. After the Crusades the Ottomans ruled (1516) and brought people to inhabit Jerash.
After Jerash we headed off to Amman (عمّان) which is the capital city! In Amman there is another Roman/Greek site. Alexander the Great came through this area and had buildings constructed. The Romans followed a few years later and made it their own just like in Jerash.
In Amman we went to the Citadel or Jabal al Qala'a which is one of Amman's oldest sites dating back 7000 years. It is an open air museum that is also the first National Archaeological Museum housing artifacts from other archaeological sites in Jordan.
Another interesting fact I learned:
I asked the tour guide what the colours of the Jordanian flag represented as a lot of Middle East countries have similar flags and I was wondering if the colours were connected to Islamic meanings. Yes I am one of those people who wonder about things like that, its from studying so much Islamic history and Middle East politics, and that I am naturally curious about flags.
This is what he told me:
Black: represents the Abbasid Caliphate
White: represents the Umayyad Caliphate
Green: represents the Fatimid Caliphate
Red: represents the Hashimites, although other research told me that it represents the revolt against the Ottoman Empire.
Seven-pointed Star: represents the first seven verses of the first Sura (chapter) in the Qur'an
Comment below if you have ever been to Jordan. What did you see and experience? Any recommendations for when I return to Jordan (I plan to visit again, two days is not enough time)?
*This is from my journal I kept while travelling, I have edited it for the flow of this post since my random ramblings would be confusing if I typed verbatim what is written down in the order it is written.
Labels: 2014, Amman. Jerash, Culture, History, Jordan, Middle East, Operation Groundswell, Travel, Volunteer, Wanderlust