March 2005: I went to Jordan because of its antiquities. I was allured by its biblical history, mystical deserts and ruins and the place that really motivated by visit above all others was Petra. Indiana Jones and the last Crusade, where Petra was first featured in any movie, happened to be among my favorite movies and ever since watching that movie as a kid I wanted to visit Petra and I hoped to do so before it became popular with the tourist masses, and this is a big reason for why I decided to visit in 2005. I spent a week in Jordan with a friend visiting Petra and exploring many other amazing places.

 

 

My route in Jordan

Mount Nebo

To get around Jordan, I negotiated a price with a taxi driver for multiple days and I selected an itinerary that covered the main attractions of Jordan; Dead Sea, Mt.Nebo, Crusader castles, Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba and the Desert Castles of the northeastern desert. We started in Amman and visited Syria and Israel before traveling southward in Jordan to the Dead Sea. Along the way we visited Mount Nebo, where the bible indicates Moses died after God showed him the promised land of modern-day Israel that was prophesized to one day be returned to the Jews.

 

 

 

 

Mount Nebo

Dead Sea

The next stop was the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth, which is negative 1400′ below sea level and one of the saltiest lakes on Earth. I walked out into the Dead Sea and discovered how painful it was right away because of the high salinity that exposes any dry skin, wound or cut and burns them. Also, because of the high salinity, it is impossible to drown and despite the depth of the water, I floated at the water’s surface.

Dead Sea

Me floating in the Dead Sea-a photo that I posed on my Flickr photosharing website that somehow ended up on a foot fetish website for men that I had to remove multiple times.

Kerak Crusader Castle

Crusader armies from Christian Europe entered biblical lands of Jordan, and Israel during medieval times to battle the Islamic armies of the Caliphate for control Jerusalem and other holy lands. As a result, there are several European like castles in Jordan built by crusaders to defend their conquered lands. One of these castles perched on a lofty hilltop is the ruined Kerak castle, that we had all to ourselves to explore its shadowy tunnels and corridors.

 

 

 

 

Kerak Castle

Kerak Castle

Kerak Castle Mosaics

Kerak Castle Tunnels

Petra

The 2300-year-old biblical city of Petra part of the Nabatean Kingdom and only accessed via a narrow canyon was easily one of my travel highlights. I found a hotel as close to the entrance as possible so that I could be the first person to enter Petra at sunrise and run ahead to see the main ruins before anyone else and have them to myself for about an hour before other tourists started to meander on in. I walked for hours exploring as many ruins as I possibly could before heading back. I also visited the Treasury building, the facade made famous in Indiana Jones at night. The mile long walk through the narrow canyon was lit with thousands of candles and mt friend and I along with a dozen or so other tourists were led down the path by Bedouin guides to the treasury building which was also lit up with candles. A Beduin elderly man then riveted us with a story of the ancient land. The experience was beyond magical, and I made sure to walk slowly on the return so that I could try and stretch out the experience for as long as possible. 

 

 

 

Narrow canyon leading to Nabatean Kingdom city of Petra

The parting of the narrow canyon that provides your first glimpse of the magical Treasury building

Treasury Building

Me in front of the Treasury Building 

Petra

Petra

Petra

Petra

Petra

Beduin that lives in Petra

Wadi Rum

I organized an overnight camping trip in the desert wilderness of Wadi Rum with local Bedouin in an outlying village.  We had our own driver, $WD jeep and we slept in a Beduin tent in the desert. Wadi Rum and its Martian like desert landscape had many cliffs, and dunes to climb along with petroglyphs from ancient times, and Bedouin nomads that still chose to live in the desert in their tents.

 

 

Exploring Wadi Rum Desert

Exploring Wadi Rum Desert

Petroglyphs 

Exploring Wadi Rum Desert

Tourist tents where we stayed

Beduin tents 

Beduin tents 

I asked our driver if we could pull over to some Beduin tents in the distance and he agreed to take us there. This would prove to be one of the coolest things we did on the trip. Inside was an elderly beduin woman and her son who was visiting her from a nearby village in his truck. She made camel milk tea for us in a small desert fire and we sat down and shared the tea together while she smoked a huge spliff of marijuana. The son informed us that his mom stilllounfs for the old way of life and refuses to live in the village wth him. Instead she prefers staying in the desert in her tent raising camels.  

Aquaba

We spend one night in Aqaba on the Red Sea to scuba dive. I did several dives during the day and night in Aqaba, where some of the world’s best diving can be found.

Aquaba on the Red Sea

Desert Castles

In probably one of the least visited areas of Jordan, the remote northeastern desert, I decided to visit some of the isolated Arab castles that defended desert caravans traveling between Israel and Iraq. The castles sit abandoned and haunted now and we had each one to ourselves. A local caretaker would have to let us in, and he would show us around but there was one where he informed us, we would need to leave before dusk because that is when the genie or ghost come out and the castle becomes dangerous.

Desert castle

Desert castle

Desert castle

Desert castle

Murals inside one of the Desert castle

Murals inside one of the Desert castle

We finished the trip in Amman, Jordan’s capitol and from there flew back home via Amsterdam on KLM Airlines.

 

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