|The Grand Mosque, Abu Dabai|
We all take pictures and read the guide books. If you or anyone wants information about Dubai or Jordan, please go to the websites or books. I am not going to talk about the history or statistics. I am going to tell you about what will "amaze your eyes".
We have been in the Middle East for over two weeks now. During that time we have visited the beautiful Burj Kalifa in Dubai and the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. We have been in Amman, Petra and the Dead Sea in Jordan. We have ridden in taxis', Uber cars and vans. Our children have two cars here so we have been transported in them shopping at the spice market. I love a ride in a car as well as the next guy but I am not going to talk about that either.
I need you to imagine the voices of people and visualize their story.
We were standing in the lobby of the Marriot in Petra. A taxi would take us to the ancient and glorious Petra UNESCO World Heritage Site for a day of walking and marveling at what nature and man can create. A hotel lobby vender appeared inviting us into his shop where ceramic pieces adorned with gold and silver were displayed.
"Come in," he said, "Amaze your eyes."
How could you not just love that. He was sincere and honestly pleased when I compliments his use of the English language. "Why don't I use my language is beautifully as you?" I asked. I looked directly at him for the first time and saw the pleasure he took from a few kind words. "Thank you. You have made my day." It was a phrase I heard over and over.
Jordan is a very poor place on the face of this earth. Not blessed by an abundance of oil nor even given soil that is not rocky, the people continue to live as they alway have.They plants crops in that soil and harvest salt and potash from the Dead Sea. Sheep and goat herders camp beside the paved roads. A man that owns a camel is very wealthy. (Their income is supplemented by the government so they can maintain their culture.) ,The temperature hovers at 3 degrees centigrade at night in the deserts and we could see the glow of lights from within the tents they called home.
In this country you travel alone with a taxi driver if you are not with a tour group. Ours drove us from Amman to Petra taking the long way. We drove past the Dead Sea over the mountains as the winds blew so hard we hung on to rocks in order to take the photos we wanted.
How did we happen to meet him. Well...we were leaving the Citadel in Amman when we gathered up two taxis that would take us back to our hotel. Our driver showed us a Lonely Planet guide book that mentioned his name.
"If you need a driver for tomorrow I will make you a deal". My son and daughter-in-law handle the details of these trips and they were the ones that made the deal. We travel on a wing and a prayer. What can I say?
We talked with our driver of his family of 7 children and his three girls that destroyed remote controls for the TV and two small boys, one that wanders the neighborhood and another that stays close to his mamma day and night. He said visiting his house was very like visiting the zoo. Shawki Dahier (079-5818993)) was his name and we grew to love his outgoing charm.
We stopped on a mountainside to use the water closet and have a cup of Turkish coffee. A Jordanian man made Turkish coffee inside his small dwelling and we were invited in so gather up what warmth there was. We laughed as we sipped our very hot sweet drink. Mosha Kanan, (079-9966621), the other driver, smiled at my grandchildren and we all were at peace. (Please, remember where I am.)
We were stopped at check points where Jordanian soldier leaned into our taxi to thank us for coming to his country.
As we walked through Petra, the children that were suppose to be in school approached us with postcards. If we declined they simply gave them to us. We did not have to give them money but of course, like everyone else, we did. They played on the rocks and round corners while they waited for the next group to pass. Petra was their school and playground.
There were rules when visiting this place. I laughed as I read the illustrated instructions:
- Do not buy things from the children. They are suppose to be in school.
- Do not ride the little donkeys if you are fat. The donkeys are just little creatures and we need to be kind to them.
- Do not pick up the rocks.
I asked the children why they were not in school. "Tomorrow" they said. The little creatures had all the right answers. Survival was their life.
We then spent two nights at the Dead Sea in what I was consider luxurious digs. My family swam in the Dead Sea and rubbed the black mud all over their bodies and then swam in the sea again. I was treated to a Salt and Aromatic Oils treatment.
All the while I was there, I could not stop thinking about the Bedoins that chose to live in their caves and the herders that were given a supplemental income by the government so that they would continue to work as they always had. Cultures around the world are like this but I am always amazed at how it works.
We returned to Amman yesterday. The road we traveled gave us a very good view of Mt. Nebo, the place where Moses stood to look over the promised land. On the other side of that mountain the lay the place that King Solomon called home. This was where he chose to marry his niece Salome. Our taxi driver told us the story of the Prophet John, King Solomon and the woman he want to marry but was forbidden to do so. It was "haram".
His Jordanian accent gave the very old tale a wonderful new meaning for me. I loved his story telling skill. He was very humble saying that his English was not good. I could only think that his words were like hearing a song and I told him so. His face reflected his joy back to me.
I have hundreds of pictures I must sort through when I return to Tucson, Az. In the meantime I will let you create pictures of your own in your mind.
Have a wonderful day.
Please forgive typing errors. I am working on a very old iPad.