• Nida Aley

A Pedacito of Jordan

Updated: Jun 19

‘There’s only one river, there’s only one sea, and it flows through you and it flows through me’. This song by Peter, Paul & Mary is one I’m particularly fond of.


The song is called ‘The River Jordan’ and it’s about...surprise! The river of Jordan. This river has been mentioned in the Hebrew bible, it’s the basin of life for Israel and, along with the mighty Indus, one of the two main sources of water for ancient civilizations.

A bird's-eye view of the Jordan River
A bird's-eye view of the Jordan River

Almost 8 years ago now, in August of 2013, I took a trip to Jordan with my mom and sister. We were all part of a travel group. Traveling in large groups has its pros and cons. The pros include the fact that everything is cheaper when you apply for things in bulk, from tickets to hotel room costs.


It also means there’s a higher chance that your visit visa won’t be rejected if you apply for it as a group, as someone who has had tourist visas rejected for both the US (twice) and the UK (once), this is a great plus. Oh, if they could only see me now, living my best life in the US!


The cons are mostly related to restriction of freedom; you have to eat what the majority wants to eat, go where everyone wants to go, your schedule is designed and implemented according to the tastes and desires of the many and there isn’t a lot of space for your particular brand of ‘individualism’. People who identify as libertarians would probably find it quite a stifling experience.


I am a hippie, go-with-the-flow kinda gal, I don’t like structure and sticking to a timetable, but I also don’t like doing a lot of research and planning things myself, so I was okay with letting someone else take care of that department.


Jordan was my first trip outside of Pakistan in a long time, the last trip abroad had been to Kuwait when I was 5. So, in my excitement, I packed three suitcases for a week-long trip.


The first day was spent exploring the city of Petra. Jordan is quite warm in the sun and there’s a LOT of walking to do, both here and on other tourist spots. I suggest investing in comfy walking shoes, comfort over style.

The long lost city of Petra in Jordan
The long lost city of Petra in Jordan

Petra is considered one of the new seven wonders of the world, more than 2 centuries ago, this long-lost city was rediscovered by explorer Jean Louis Burckhardt. Experts say it takes at least two days to fully explore the city, but we made a day trip and took in as much as we could. There were the mysterious Djinn Blocks, we can only guess at the purpose of these imposing monuments, but they sure are impressive.

When in Jordan, plan to spend at least an entire day wandering around Petra
When in Jordan, plan to spend at least an entire day wandering around Petra

The Obelisk Tomb is a sight to behold. From what experts have been able to make out, it is most probably a burial site for 4 or 5 people, with the eroded humanoid figure out front, this looks like something out of a horror movie, chilling and foreboding.

Jordan's Obelisk Tomb is a sight to behold
Jordan's Obelisk Tomb is a sight to behold

We made our way to Siq, a pathway with tall walls on either side, it is the path of the channel that supplied Petra with water. Along this path, there are many carvings inside niches to see. These carvings are called Baetyls and may be an indication of the ‘holy city’ status of Petra. This channel could be one of the areas where sacred rituals were performed.

Siq was a pathway that once supplied Petra with its water
Siq was a pathway that once supplied Petra with its water

The Petra Night Show is a sight to behold, I am told. Unfortunately, due to our day trip, we missed the beautiful scene of the entire area lit up in candlelight, but these pictures look amazing!

The Petra Night Show is a sight to behold
The Petra Night Show is a sight to behold

Our next stop was the Dead Sea, it holds a great deal of importance in terms of religion, history, and skincare. The dead sea masks and scrubs are a thriving industry and we bought several jars to help it along. We all also waded into the water a bit, it’s really mineral-rich and is supposed to have healing qualities even though the high salinity makes plant or sea life impossible.

Some of us chose to stay on the shore, where they had tubs of dead sea mud ready for us to soak our battle-weary limbs in.
Some of us chose to stay on the shore, where they had tubs of dead sea mud ready for us to soak our battle-weary limbs in


Our next stop was Wadi Rum, also known as ‘Valley of the Moon’. This is where much of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ was filmed, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011. The sandstone and granite rock formations in this valley are breathtaking, we had the option of either riding camels, Arabian horses, or offloading in ATVs. Most of us chose the ATVs and had a really great time.

Wadi Rum is a UNESCO World Heritage site where much of the movie "Lawrence of Arabia' was filmed
Wadi Rum is a UNESCO World Heritage site where much of the movie "Lawrence of Arabia' was filmed

Next on the agenda were the Jaraish ruins, this was my favorite part of the tour, it was like being transported back in time, into ancient Rome. From the Corinthian columns to Hadrian’s Arch, from the Hippodrome that was like a modern-day football field, where they have reenactments of gladiator fights and chariot races, to the Temple of Zeus and the South Theater.

Large columns line the Jaraish Ruins in Jordan
Large columns line the Jaraish Ruins in Jordan
The sun reflects off of the ruins in Jordan
The sun reflects off of the ruins in Jordan
The Jaraish Ruins were my favorite part of the trip
The Jaraish Ruins were my favorite part of the trip
An ancient theatre in the Jaraish Ruins in Jordan
An ancient theatre in the Jaraish Ruins in Jordan

We also made a stop at the ancient mosaics of Madaba and visited a factory where all manner of mosaics were created and sold. Such intricate, beautiful, and colorful designs.

An example of the mosaics of Maraba found in Jordan
An example of the mosaics of Maraba found in Jordan

While in Jordan we had copious amounts of Turkish coffee and I have never enjoyed black coffee more. The day before we left, our local guide had prepared a bbq for us, with all local Jordanian cuisine, served inside a large tent. It was cats galore, I don’t think I have ever seen such healthy and friendly cats before!

Me waiting for a taxi in Jordan
Me waiting for a taxi in Jordan

The food was absolutely delicious, Jordanian cuisine is quite similar to Pakistani fare, except it isn’t as spicy. Lots of barbecued fish, lamb, chicken, and beef, the carnivore in me rejoiced!

 

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