As we enter into the last week or so of our trip, we are getting increasingly busy packing, studying for our final exams, and squeezing in as many last minute experiences as possible. As a result of minimal time coupled with a failing internet connection, I’ve fallen a bit behind on blogging, but make no mistake, much has happened over the past few days!
This past Friday we embarked on our last weekend-long excursion to the Dead Sea. Early Friday morning we all flopped into our usual seats on the bus and headed for breakfast in Irbid. Instead of Hasham’s, we sampled traditional Jordanian breakfast pastries filled with meat, cheese, and spinach. Stomachs full, we rolled slowly out of Irbid, southbound.
We got off the highway about two hours into our trip at Madaba, a Jordanian town famous for its ancient mosaics. After disembarking the bus “bidun sweater” (one of the perks of hanging around tourist sites is the opportunity to cover according to Western standards) we wandered among the mosaics which date all the way back to the Byzantine Empire. A Freedom Trail-esque line led us to various historic churches, one the site of John the Baptist’s beheading. We climbed its treacherous clock tower which pierced the sky, offering a gorgeous view of Madaba’s skyline. After slowly making our way back down and wandering through some of the church’s ancient tunnels and underground shrines, we meandered back to the bus past tourist shop after tourist shop.
Our next stop was Mount Nebo, where Moses first looked out over the Promised Land after forty years in the desert with the freed Israelites
. We made our way to its top among packs of other tourists and caught a glimpse of the tree far below that marks the place where Moses planted his staff and water sprang forth to sustain his people. A childhood love of Exodus and fascination with the impact of religion on history culminated in pure joy standing on Nebo. With our check in time
Upon setting foot through the entrance to the Kempinski hotel we were offered fresh juice and clean, damp towels which proved instrumental in our attempts to scrub away the sweat and heavy stench of smoke we had accumulated on our ride. Once checked in we were up to our rooms and back in minutes, clad in bathing suits and bidun bags, headed straight for the hotel’s gorgeous infinity pool overlooking the sea. After a quick dip, we made our way down to the shore. We coated ourselves in Sea’s famous thick grey-brown mud before climbing over the rocks baking in the sun and easing into the water. The salt immediately stung my many mosquito bites and it was almost uncomfortably warm, but as soon as I just relaxed and let myself float, I began to see what all the hype was about. No matter where in the world, salt water and sun create an infallible recipe for complete bliss. Had the day not been drawing to a close, I could have floated there forever, but evening was setting in fast so I traded my head to toe mud for a cover up and headed back to my room for a shower. drawing near we all eagerly scooted back to the bus. Then it was full steam ahead to the Dead Sea.
After some much needed rest, we regrouped for dinner at a Tai restaurant on the hotel’s massive campus and closed out the evening with a lovely dinner with Waed and Muhammad followed by some much needed rest in a real bed.