Day 7: Last Day in Jordan
The next morning, we took the drive from one tourist city to another, from Petra to the Dead Sea, only stopping by the Jordan river and Baptism site along the way.The Baptism site was where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist around the age of 30. My favorite part of the site, however, was the beautiful mosaic next to it, that, upon close examination, included a mosaic-ly typed out “www.baptismsite.com.” My trip had come full circle. Perhaps the internet is not so hard to find, even in the depths of the Jordanian desert.
We then stopped by the Jordan River, which was quite the sad sight to see. After hearing, during our many briefings, about Jordan’s water problem, seeing the depleted river right at our feet with the cracked dry ground around it was a testament to everything we had heard.
It was also particularly interesting to stand one side of the Jordan River and to see Israel’s flag only a couple feet away from us. It is rare to be so close to the border between two countries and even more rare to see a natural border rather than an officially patrolled land border.
After this stop, we drove on until we arrived at our beautiful resort right on the Dead Sea. Every time, on this trip, that we arrived at a new hotel, I thought about how lucky I am to be on this trip and to stay at all of these amazing hotels. One of the guys on the trip and I talked about how in many years, when we are old and retired journalists, we will look back on this trip as one of our most lavish and impressive press trips of our career. After all, since when do journalists reside in 5-star resorts on the water with all-inclusive buffet lunches and dinners? If that’s the case, however, I can say with certainty that I have chosen the right career path.
After settling in our rooms, which, in my case had two massive beds and a balcony out onto a tropic jungle, we proceeded to take a swim, or should I say, a float, in the Dead Sea. The experience was certainly sting-ey and salty, and we even managed to give ourselves free self mud-treatments and swam in the beautiful infinity pool.
Dinner with and drinks with Joranian Senator Akel Biltaji followed, where he spoke candidly to us about his reaction to President Obama’s speech and his views on America’s relations with Jordan. It was a great conclusion to our trip, as it covered the very reason for our trip – the Sixty Years of Friendship between our two countries. We learned, as we had heard many times on the trip, about the importance of our new administration in improving America’s image in the Middle East. Personally, I had never fully jumped on Barack Obama’s crazed-fan boat, but this trip showed that if we, as Americans, respect our own President, the rest of the world will follow. And it is crucially important that the Middle East is part of that fan-club because, we need their cooperation, especially that of our friends, such as Jordan.
As it was our last night in Jordan, we decided we had to properly celebrate, especially after we had heard about the beach party and the British DJ. We proceeded downstairs to the beach, only to find that we were some of the only enthusiastic beach party participants. We ordered some drinks and ended up having a not so pleasant run in with another group of Americans, who proceeded talking to us using some inappropriate racial slurs. While they were enjoying the comfort of staying in Jordan, they were speaking rudely to the locals. Sure, they were drunk, but that was no excuse for being prejudiced, especially when an Arabic country is showing you hospitality. I could definitely see where the bad image of Americans comes from in the Middle East. Hopefully, our press group was giving the people in Jordan a different perspective. The men eventually shuffled off to another hotel and we paid our bill.
We were all pretty offended and needed to cool off so we went up to the restaurant/bar which was upstairs and listened to a Jordanian man try to pull off Enrique Iglesias and then Bon Jovi, which was certainly unforgettable. Some drinks and a hookah (hubbly-bubbly) later), we all slowly returned to our great hotel rooms, a long and daunting night of packing ahead.