Day 5: Ancient Adventures
Our 5th day of adventure began with a breakfast meeting with Fr. Nabil D. Haddad, the executive director of the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center. He spoke about Jordan, praising it as a country conducive to peaceful religious coexistence, which is what his organization promotes. He fears that many countries and religions have incorrect and often negative perceptions of one another and works to promote tolerance and understanding among them. One interesting thing Haddad noted was that despite the wonderful relationship between Christians and Muslims, there still are no Jordanian Jews living in Jordan.
After the meeting, we checked out of our Amman hotel and set off to see Mt. Nebo and then to visit Madaba, “the city of mosaics.” Mt. Nebo is where Moses was thought to have died and looked upon the Holy Land. The site is beautiful and included, due to our luck with weather conditions, a wonderful view of the Dead Sea as well as Jerusalem beyond it.
The next stop, on the way to Madaba, included a mosaic workshop, where we watched workers at the craft and viewed the results in the beautiful shop next door. Madaba itself was where the real mosaics were, or to be more correct, the one mosaic located at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George that has the sixth century Byzantine map showing Jerusalem and other holy sites within the area. The mosaic originally included over two million pieces of colored stone and was 82 by 16 feet in size. The remains of the mosaic today are beautiful and one can still note the Dead Sea and Jerusalem as well as many other important sites on the Mosaic Map.
The consequent drive to Petra took about 3 hours and we arrived at our beautiful hotel which used to be a village in this area. The village map, though slightly confusing and labyrinth-esque, leads us to our rooms, which are decorated beautifully. The dinner was, once again, a wonderful buffet, where we also had the pleasure of meeting Ibrahim, who works for the Petra National Trust and spoke to us about the efforts of conservation and management of the Petra site.
Some Petra beers out on the terrace followed dinner, where some of the group leaders took a break from political jargon and journalistic antics and just talk American pop culture as well as world culture.
The hike up to Petra itself awaits.