our guidebook said that if you see only one thing in jordan, it’s gotta be petra. they were definitely right about that. we’ve seen our fair share of ruins on this trip, but the city of petra is for sure one of the most exceptional sights we’ve been to. it’s a city built approximately 300 BC, and was built out of this beautiful pinkish redish sandstone. as opposed to other ruins where the structures are free standing, petra is actually carved into the rock cliffs, and this makes it somehow look a lot more magestic and formidable. actually, if you’ve seen indiana jones and the last crusade (as we did last night) the crazy temple thing that they enter is actually in petra.

petra is huge, and even though we’ve been here for 2 days, we sill didnt get to see all there is to see. there are humongous rock cut temples, tombs, caves, and incredible views. the way that all the carving is done is actually very intricate, and the color of the rocks here is unbelievable. of course, my tiny little digital camerta wouldn’t really pick up the red hues that well, but this realy is something that has to be seen to be believed.. some of the rocks are practically purple.

here are a few of my favorite photos from the ton of photos i took here:


back to jordan


this was our last day in jerusalem. it was pretty sad to leave. we’ve ended up spending 8 days here, which is longer than we’ve spent in almost any other city on this trip, and we’ve really gotten used to being here. but oh well, we just gotta move on. after visitng the western wall one more time, and paying an insane amount (45$!!) for an guidebook to india (it’s huge and ways a ton), we caught a bus to eilat, a city in the southern tip of israel. despite the difficulty of our border crossing to get into israel, getting out was quite painless and we were across in jordan in practically no time at all (although we did still get some questions about our syrian stamps). we stayed the night in a small town called aqabba, and went out to chinese food for dinner w/ these australians that we met at the border. man, i really miss chinese food!


the first thing we noticed after coming into jordan was that everyone was so friendly to us. everyone kept telling us “welcome! welcome!” and people were all super nice. that’s definitely been a pattern w/ people here in the middle east. the only place wer’re really planning on visiting here is Petra, and we caught an early minibus there. halfway there, the minibus pulled over near a mosque, and almost everyone on board piled out to go pray. it was the friday afternoon prayers, which are the most important ones.

we ended up being stopped there for almost half an hour, but i really didnt mind. actually, i think it’s so cool that these people believe so much in their religion that they are willing to completely stop what they are doing because they need to pray. religion is such an important part of their lives that bus schedules are altered at whim, and no one on the minibus complained a bit. things are sooo different here than they are back home. that’s what i love about traveling… that you get to get at least a little insight into the way other people live and what makes them tick. i’m so constantly curious about these foreign people with their foreign religion and foreign ways of life. the veiled women and the nomadic bedouins, the friendliness and openness of the people, the different traditions.. i just want to learn absolutely everything i can about them and figure them out. and yet, it’s all so impossible. it’s as if someone dumped a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle in front of you and you tried to put it together in 10 minutes. sure, you could look at the individual pieces and in a few spots you could even fit some pieces together, but there’s no way you could get the whole picture in such a short time. and just like the puzzle, where you usually concentrate on the outside edge first, and leave the confusing center for last, here too you usually only can grasp the outside and whats on the surface of the people and it take much more time to actually get to the heart and center of things…..


the hole

when our group split up in damascus, two of the people went ahead to jordan and the email we got back from jennie said “amman is a total hole, dont bother going”. well, we had to at least pass through amman in order to get pretty much anywhere in jordan, so we stopped here hoping that we may like the city anyways. well, although it may not be a total hole, it’s definitely nowhere near as nice as damascus. it doesnt have nearly as much of that interesting middle eastern character and is full of a lot of dirty looking chunky concrete buildings. it’s extremely westernized, has it’s own pizza hut kfc burger king popeyes, and the number of people wearing non-western clothing are very few and far between.

when we got out at the bus stop at night, the desperation of taxi drivers here became evident to us instantly. one cab that was about to pick up some locals, threw their car into reverse to drive away from them and try to pick up up instead. we avoided that cab. the next cab we saw, there was a middle eastern man trying to get into it… he even had the back door open, but the cab driver totally ignored him and kept screaming to us asking where we were going. they were desperate to pick up tourists (so they could double charge us) and it was just disgusting how rude they were to the locals here. during the rest of our time here, taxis constantly honk at us and try to pick us up. they’re absolutely desperate for toursit business.

despite their willingness to pick us up, these taxi guys have no idea what they’re doing. name a street.. pretty much any street in town and they have no clue where it is. they dont know where the restaurants we name are, nor the bus companies etc. the only way fo getting anywhere is to tell them an important landmark, get dropped off there and then walk the remaining several blocks to wher we want to go. we’ve spent a ton of time walking *after* having paid for a taxi. luckily, these walks are totally safe, even late at night, partially since the city has hardly any crime (we were told) and partially because there are armed soldiers with huge machine guns hanging out all over the place. dont get me wrong, these guys are actually usually extremely nice. one guard called us over, and i expected the “where’s your passport!! where are you going!” bullshit that we had gotten in russia when stopped by armed guards, but instead he just welcomed us to jordan and spent some time giving us advice on where to go. despite his kindness, it’s definitely unnerving having the machinegun slung over his shoulder be poiting at your stomach. logically i know that the safety is on, and it’s totally safe blah blah blah, but regardless, i would much rather have the thing pointed elsewhere!

the taxi drivers arent the only thing that make this place a bit confusing. first off, their money is divided into a thousand pieces, instead of 100 like every other country so prices can be 1.254 or something like that. next, they (like other countries in the middle east) use indian numerals, instead of the one’s we use back home which are know paradoxically as arabic numerals. so every time we see numbers on signs, on our hotel door, etc we have to decipher what number it really is. also, our guidebook section on amman is hopeless. a bunch of the retaurants it mentions dotn exist, or are not in the same place, etc. other restaurnats are mentioned, but then not shown on the map so we have no clue where they are.

but hey, despite all these things, amman really isn’t as bad as i may have made it sound. we’ve heard it has a vibrant nightlife and the restaurant/bar we ate at seemed really cool. also, it has some sights, but we managed to spend the whole day by not seeing a single one of them (except this one mosque that we bumped into on accident). instead we spent time inside fast food restaurants , inside a bookstore (we ran out of books), inside a pharmacy (we ran out of toothpaste), inside a bus station (buying tickets outta here), shopping for hookas, and inside our hotel which is a bizarre situation in itself.

the hotel promised hot water, but there is only luke warm. there’s a tv in the room, but it doesnt work. there is a heater, but they try not to turn it on. we had to ask a few times just to get towels and toilet paper. the two guys that run the hotel, just sit on the couch all day and watch tv while sometimes yelling at this poor other guy to fetch us stuff. we ask about the cable:broken, we ask about the phone:broken. sheez…

we definitely still would like to see what amman has to offer, but we’ve decided to make a detour and come back later. we had intended to go to israel after jordan, but our friend lora reminded us that hanukkah starts in just a few days, and it would probably be really cool to be there on the first night of hannukah. there’s no way we have time to go down to petra and finish it by the time hanukkah starts, so we’re putting of jordan for a bit and we’ll go se israel first. tomorrow morning, we get on a bus to tel aviv!

oh yeah, i just remembered one other thing.. unfortunately my journal wouldnt be complete without me mentioning kofte. kofte are these “kebabs” made out of ground lamb. they actually dont taste half bad if it wasn’t for their horrendous appearance. kofte have the misfortune of being long, cylindrical, brown, and lumpy. their resemblance to shit is incredible. seriously, they look the exact same going in as they do coming out. having a few kofte laying on your plate, is enough to make you not wanna eat dinner. unfortunately, in the middel east, they try to sneak kofte into everything. order kebab, you get kofte, order “allepo” you get kofte, and there are maybe a dozen other names for it. we would never in a million years get these by choice, and yet we’ce eaten them dozens of times just cause we dont know what we’re ordering. just last night cary ordered a kebab and forgot to specify chicken.. and guess what we got… a huge plate of Kofte. UGH.