Day 3 Sunday
Didn’t sleep at all! I’m completely thrown off by the time change. Watched old movies in English on the TV all night. When that didn’t work, watched Discovery channel in French. Still didn’t bore me enough to make me drowsey. Got up at 6:15 and retrieved the breakfast box prepared by the hotel. Inside were olives (tasty), cheese (tastless), two yougerts, a vegetible salad, and orange and an apple. After that weird meal, I met the contact person who drove me and nine other in our group to the border. We went through four or five checkpoints, past barbed wire and gun towers. It was just like Berlin in the 60’s. The young people manning the security on both sides were efficient, professional, and genuinely pleasant. We had to sit on the Jordanian side in a fly infested souviner shop because one of the older members of the group showed two passports in two names. She had dual citizenship and one was in her maiden name. That took a good hour to sort out. Meanwhile, the flys were eating me alive. I think it was my suntan lotion. Must be a fly aphrodesiac. Our Jordanian tour guide was really good. We drove in a van for two hours to get to Petra. It’s high in the mountains. We stopped along the way at a Bedouin tent and a wiry old man poured us hot, sweet tea. I was reluctant at first to drink it, cause I didn’t see a fresh water spring anywhere nearby.
But the water was boiled, so I gave it a try. It was really good. Hot tea in the baking sun. It actually cools you off. While we sat in his tent, I noticed ants running around on the ground near my feet. These ants must have been part of a nuclear experiment because they were the size of flys and fast as Cheetas. When you slapped one you got bathed in goo. It was not a pleasant sight.
We arrived at Petra and discovered that it’s a very long ravine stretching a couple of miles, all downhill. It has got to be seen in person to be believed. The photos I took are good but the real thing is spectacular. No wonder it’s now one of the new seven wonders of the world. We all think of Petra as one single temple facade, but there are temples and burial tombs for miles. 70% has not yet been excavated. And even the temple that appeared in the Indiana Jones movie has not yet been fully excavated. What you see exposed appears to be only an upper level. A toumb has been found thirty feet down right in front of the building, so who knows how far down it goes. But all the dirt in the ravine has covered up everything, and it all has to be excavated. It was amazing.
I shared a horse drawn cart ride back up the ravine with a lady from our group. The driver was showing off, getting the horse to sprint. Pedestrians had to jump out of the way. We went around a turn in the narrow canyon and nearly collided head on with a horse drawn wagon coming down at high speed. Parts of the road are sections of exposed roman cobblestones. They are completely uneven, so when the cart wheels go over them at high speed, you get bounced around. It was kidney jarring.
Back at the border, I cleared Jordanian security, but then I had to walk the wire lined road to get to the first Israelie checkpoint. I decided to take a photo of the Jordanian border crossing. Not illegal, but in the process I dropped my passport and all the various stamped forms flew out. The wind was blowing hard at the time, and my papers headed for the desert. I thought I was screwed, but I managed to get them before they went through the fence. Learned my lesson. It would have been a disaster.
Got my bags from the hotel and raced to the airport with my driver. I had the time wrong for my flight, so I was an hour early. But I had run with the bags and was sweating profusely. And because I was alone and didn’t know anyone in Israel, I hit the profile. I was checked out by two security agents, and finally was cleared to get to my flight. The questions they ask are really good. Our TSA people could learn a lot from the Israelie system.
I’m waiting for the plane now, and all I can say is I’m tired, in need of a bath… and thank God the Red Wings, Pens and San Jose went down in five. Got back to Tel Aviv on a good flight. Getting picked up tomorrow am at 7:45 so I’ll pass on dinner, eat a power bar, and get to bed. Tomorrow is Massada and the Dead Sea. Should be interesting. G”Night All.