Today was somewhat bittersweet, but all in all a great first day. We arrived to a fabulous dinner, not really sure if it in fact was dinner, or breakfast, or lunch, according to our stomachs, but thankful for the amazing spread no matter our body clocks. After much needed night's sleep we were up and ready to get to Petra for the day.
When meeting our tour guide downstairs we discovered that there was snow in Petra, and we were not able to travel there. Our tour guide had tried many different options in hopes we could get there today, but the police said do not come, the roads will be closed... This was a major bummer to many, as several had come on this trip, JUST to see Petra. Our guide, Michel (named after the archangel Michael), said, "Eh, don't worry, it's just a bunch of rocks." That kind of brought things into perspective though, he made us laugh, but we certainly wanted to see it. Our guide and driver have been great, and we were able to see Mt. Nebo and Madaba in addition to Jerash, an ancient Roman city sitting in the heart of a modern city
Jerash is about 20-25% uncovered/excavated and has more than 80% to go and is the second most visited site in Jordan, just under, you guessed it... Petra :)
Our tour guide, Michel, and bus driver Aladdin (yes, Aladdin) were very helpful and knowledgable as we toured through Jerash, which was no where on our plans. After a full morning of ancient ruins, and learning about older days in Jerash/Jordan we headed out to lunch.
We heard the Islamic call to prayer while we were there, and enjoyed a wonderful buffet of food.
After lunch we headed towards Madaba. Madaba is a place that may not be as famous as Petra, but is seriously helpful in understanding pilgrimage to the "Holy Lands."
The Madaba Map is part of a floor mosaic in the early Byzantine church of Saint George at Madaba, Jordan. The Madaba Map is a map of the Middle East. Part of it contains the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Lands and especially Jerusalem.. It dates to the 6th century AD and helps us understand the early pilgrims and what they were coming to see.
Following our time there we headed to Mt. Nebo where Moses was allowed to view the promised land, but unable to enter it because he had disobeyed God when the Israelites were complaining to him about bringing them into the wilderness and needing water. Oh the irony as we were there on a rainy day and unable to see much. On a much clearer day than we experienced, you can actually see Jericho and the Dead Sea from the peak of Mt. Nebo. It is easy to see why God would have wanted Moses to visit here, and show him what has been promised to Abraham's ancestors. It was still rainy, so we did not stay there very long, but were treated to hot tea as we entered a mosaic making shop that looks very similar to the mosaics like on in the floor of St. George Church. The process is very time consuming and definitely an art! This particular place employees nearly 80 artists and over 1/3 of them are special needs individuals. The government is incredibly supportive and offers to ship any of their art anywhere in the world for free as a way to support their livelihood and art.
After another dinner at the hotel, and more conversations about our itinerary with others, we have settled into the night, anxious to cross the border into Israel and see what it has to offer!