Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Weekend in Jordan, Part 2: Biblical Road Trip

For our second day in Jordan we travelled from Amman to Madaba, to Mount Nebo and finally ended up at the Dead Sea. We were equipped with a tour guide and the Lonely Planet guide to Jordan, but I quickly realized that the best guide book would have been a copy of the Bible! 10 years ago when I spent a month in Israel I had the same feeling, which is appropriate because the borders of the West Bank loomed large from almost every vantage point we had.

We started the day in the city of Madaba, whose claim to fame is a mosaic map on the floor of an old Byzantine church which is the oldest surviving depiction of the holy land and Jerusalem. I can think of a faster way to draw a map than with hundreds of tiny tiles, but at least the effect is awesome!

Oldest map of the Holy Land, the floor of Saint George's church in Madaba

Thousands of tiny tiles
From there we headed West to Mount Nebo which has amazing views of the holy lands including the Dead Sea, Jericho, and Jerusalem, according to the final chapter of Deuteronomy, Mount Nebo is where the Moses was given a view of the promised land that God was giving to the Jews. "And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho." Moses apparently also climbed to the top of the mountain before he died and was buried here by God himself. In 2000 Pope John Paul made a pilgrimage here, as it is one of the holiest Christian sites in Jordan.
Looking out on the West Bank
Quite the view, I can totally see what Moses was inspired by: location, location, location.Matt must climb on everything - I think my t-shirt says it all...

In continuing our walk down biblical-lane we made one last stop at the site of Jesus’ baptism on the Jordan River. Interesting enough I was also told that I had been to this site when I was on the Israeli side of the Jordan River, turns out it is slightly disputed, but historians are on the side of Jordan for this one. Unfortunately, years and years of rerouting and damming the river have left this site as not much more that a dry mud bed, but we were impressed to see that they had created a mosaic to memorialize the site and included a website!

http://www.baptismsite.com/, check it out!

The presumed spot, an outcove on the Jordan River

Our final stop was the lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea. It is also 33.7% salt. Yummy! We bobbed peacefully, enjoying the feeling of weightlessness as the salty water made us float. Then in order to get the true Dead Sea experience we covered ourselves in the thick black mud found on the shores which is famed for its healing and anti-aging properties. Anything to look good for the wedding! The mud also seemed to bring out the super heroes that lived inside of us, I felt like a character from X Men. I think you'll agree everybody looks good with a little bit of mud on them!

Look Mom no hands!

Lisa catching up on the latest issue of Jordan Business magazine

Bobbing in the Dead Sea

The transformation begins!

Wearing turtlenecks on the beach! (Also known as the floating head picture)

The "super hero" powers take over, we are unstoppable in our mud suits!

Watch out Amer, we take no prisoners.

Sigh, how beautiful. (PS. That is a very fullfilling sigh, as there is nearly 10% more oxygen at the Dead Sea)

The long days of travel came to and end with watching a glorious sunset over the sea. We were totally relaxed - for the moment that is - it took another 3 showers to finally get all that mud off!

1 comment:

UDJim said...

Thanks for taking us along for another great trip! Could you hear us all asking, "Are we there yet?"

And thanks for letting us know that the Web reaches even the banks of the Jordan River.

I'm waiting for my "Nerds for Jesus" T-shirt.