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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Petra, Cooking Class, and Night of Magic

I lack the words for today. While I have enjoyed the canyons and parks of Utah, Petra blew me away today. Neither is better, but I don't believe I had any idea of how spectacular Petra would be. 

Our guide, Zuhair,  explaining the Nabataen sites to us and what we will see. 

I could show a million photos here and still not do this place justice. 

We were the first ones in the canyon this morning. It was a good thing because it got really really hot as the hours passed. 

These narrow, steep passages are breathtaking. 

And then suddenly through the canyon you get a glimpse of the Treasury. 

Group photo!

Perhaps my favorite photo of the whole trip, lol. Selfie with jackass. This could be a whole Instagram feed with so many possibilities! ;-). This guy cooperated so well for our photo!
Hiked the 800 steps (yes carved into the mountain) to the Monestary. Even more spectacular than the Treasury. 

View at top into the next valley. Spectacular place, Jordan. 

Walked back down through Petra and took an extra little hike up to the remains of a sixth century Byzantine church. 
A kind man told me about the mosaics. I said, "marhaba" to him, which means hello, and he asked me if I spoke Arabic. I laughed. He said many Americans don't bother to learn any words at all. In my travels, I have learned it is so helpful to know how to say hello, thank you, you're welcome, good morning, etc. Many will appreciate even that small gesture. 

Some of the mosaics remaining in the church. 

These represent the seasons.  The woman with the basket is Autumn. 

There was also an old baptismal font attached to the church. 

I had not been truly hot until this point because we left so early, but at this point I still had almost two more miles back to the hotel. When done, this is what I did for the next 2.5 hours after a good shower. 

We had a cooking class at a nearby hotel. We made a traditional Jordanian dish called makloobeh, which I had eaten my first night in Jerusalem. It means "upside down," because you take the mostly cooked chicken and veggies and then cook rice with spices over the top. You turn it upside down when cooked before serving and eat it family style, with no utinsils. We Westerners used utinisils. :-)

We also made a few varieties of salads. 

Taking the chicken out of the stock to put in the bottom of the pot. 

Mount Nebo, Madaba and on to Petra

Tuesday, July 25

On our way to Mount Nebo (about one hour's drive), we stopped at a Safeway. I haven't even seen one of those in the States forever. We grabbed snack items for our hiking in Petra tomorrow. 

At Mount Nebo we saw a brand new church (finished months ago) on top of a fifth century Byzantine church. It had the most incredible mosaics. 

The above are outside the church, under a covering. 

View from the top of Mount Nebo. This is a sacred pilgrimage site where Moses went to see the promised land and passed away. 

The new church. 

Inside it is so simply and beautifully done, and the mosaics incredibly displayed and preserved. 

We went to a workshop that specializes in traditional Jordanian arts. This woman is explaining how the mosaic tiles are done. This one will take a few hundred hours to complete. 

Here she is showing how they do a mosaic "tattooing" of tiny dots on ostrich eggs. These were so beautiful, and in the end I bargained for one of these that has the mosaic from the church on Mount Nebo and the Tree of Life. 

Mine doesn't look like the one above. It is wrapped up in a box for taking home. 

The Greek Orthodox Church with the most extensive ancient mosaic map of the Middle East. 

You can see that this is still a site for pilgrims today, seeking something from these holy places. 

On the road south to Petra

Little Petra, which was a good introduction to the UNESCO world heritage site of Petra itself. 

Petra and Little Petra were built by the Nabaeteans. They were carvers and commerce merchants of spices and other goods. They probably made the most money on frankincense. 

Hiked up to one of the caves. These served as restaurants for the travelers. In this rare one, there are still frescoes remaining on the ceiling. You can see the cupids?

Only dared to peek in. They don't go back far but smell of animal dung from continued use of donkeys and such. 

Our group had this place to ourselves. 

The view from our hotel right outside the main entrance to Petra. We had a rooftop barbecue of plenty of meat while we enjoyed the lovely evening.