Steps – 10,722
Miles – 4.43
We are in Petra, spending the night in luxury while waiting for a day of exploration in the land of the Nabateans. It was a bit of a weird-weather day. We woke up to a cool, breezy, foggy Jerusalem. What a change from the warmth we’d been having. The nights were wonderful for strolls in Jerusalem, balmy and lovely. But something changed overnight. It was refreshing. But, it most certainly did not help the views at all. The first time we saw the Mt. of Olives was from the back side looking up. Weird. I love that last look, but it was all shrouded in fog.
The day began in normal fashion. I guess. We were supposed to eat and bring our luggage down to the lobby by 7:30. It was done. We all checked out, a van arrived to carry the luggage to the bus (no busses inside the Old City). By the way, with the bike race on Friday through the streets of Jerusalem, it made getting to and from our hotel a walking challenge sometimes. Anyway, we started off to the bus (we did walk too fast and there was an issue at the back of the pack, but nothing an extra few stairs couldn’t solve). Eventually we were all on the bus with all of our luggage. Abed was on time and we were off to the Allenby Bridge.
Mark Benedom did a great “last morning in Israel” devotion. Then I took over the tour guide seat. I don’t think I really said too much, because if I say anything it generates questions. And questions I can’t answer. We were at the border in about half an hour. There are many check points and we made it through in fairly short order to passport control. That was interesting. A little more crowded than last time. I think because it was Shabbat the border closes early so there are more people trying to get across in a shorter amount of time (at least that was our Jordanian guide’s opinion as we wait an hour and a half to pass through Jordanian passport control).
So we got our luggage transferred, VAT’s refunded, and boarded our bus, with Mohammed as our new driver (he’s not Abed, just saying). Then across the Jordan River (I missed it, btw). It’s not more than 15’ wide at that point anyway. And we were off to Jordanian passport control. If I pay $7, a kid will take two pieces of luggage to be inspected. If I don’t, we all have to take our luggage off the bus for inspection. I gave the $7. Easy decision. Then we hand our passports to our guide (he was nameless at this point) and then we waited an hour and a half for him to return. Lots of VIP’s crossing today and “rush hour traffic” because of Shabbat. Oh well. The bus was air conditioned and we just chatted.
When our guide returned, we were on our way. His name is Osama. And for some reason he started going by Sam. So we call him Sam. He is a Catholic from Madaba. Nice guy. He knows my last guide, Ruby. She was at the passport control station with him today, but I didn’t find out until too late. I would have gone in to greet her (but that would be the only reason why I would go in).
Our first stop was at Bethany Beyond Jordan. “The” site for the baptism of Jesus. It is an interesting place, and the hillsides around the river are dotted with church after church after church. No sharing churches any more. It’s a little unbelievable. And, it was in the upper 90’s. Hot. The walk down to the river was not all that short, but they did have a covered walkway for most of it. That was a huge relief. But it was still hot.
We spent a few minutes down at the river. There wasn’t a soul on the Israeli side, I thought perhaps it was closed. But before we left there were a ton of people over there. Most dunking a t-shirt into the water. Some being sprinkled by a priest. We touched the water (yes, it is still pretty muddy) and cool, not cold.
We headed back to the bus (it was still really hot). The bus was cool and we were off to Mt. Nebo. The road is pretty winding going up to Mt. Nebo, and Mohammed doesn’t take things too easily. The bus is much larger than the bus in Israel (it always is) and in the back things really move back and forth. But we made it in one piece and were off to see the church and view.
Pretty church. Not much view today. We couldn’t even see the Dead Sea because of the haze/fog. We got the idea. Sort of. There was a group in the church (Roman Catholic) who was having some sort of service and their singing (not English) was beautiful. Sam thought perhaps they were from Indonesia. Sounded plausible to me.
Back on the bus. By now it was like 1:30. We are running late, so we decided to go straight to lunch (one of Sam’s uncle’s – but a place I’ve been to several times) and skip the church at Madaba (known for its mosaic map on the floor of the church) for Monday. It thought it was a fabulous idea. We didn’t want to get to our hotel in Petra too late. Might as well enjoy it a little.
Lunch was good ($15). Very good, actually. Sam called ahead and got us a fresh watermelon from the market for us to enjoy. It was delicious. By 2:30 or so we were back on the bus and headed for Petra (3 ½ hours away). Sam talked for a bit and then announced it was nap time. That was nice. We stopped for a rest about half way. Half way there are lots of shops and rest stores to enjoy. Hmmm, wonder how that happened. They did have beautiful things in the shop. I resisted all temptation. Sam treated me to a coffee, which I accepted and drank.
Back on the bus and off to Petra. We arrived around 6:30 I suppose and got all checked in. Dinner at 7:15. The buffet here is amazing. I had some beef – LOTS of veggies (best of the trip so far) and then perhaps, maybe some dessert. I saw lots of plates piled high, and I can testify to the white chocolate mousse being delicious (both servings).
Done with dinner and up to the room. Getting my work done (journal, pix uploaded already) and a phone call or two home – and now I can get cleaned up and get to bed. We have an “early” (actually normal) start in the morning. I just have to be in the lobby at 8 am for the trek into Petra (might as well get going while it is a little cooler). There is actually a chance of rain tomorrow evening. That would sort of be nice I think. But since it is almost 10 pm, I’d better hit the sack. This riding on the bus is almost as tiring as walking 5-6 miles. It’s true. Farewell from Petra!