It is approximately 143 miles from Amman to Petra and we travelled down the Desert Highway, one of three main north/ south highways in Jordan. As soon as we got out of the city, the landscape changed dramatically and we saw few towns, a lot of desert and evidence of the mining of potash. Some Bedouin tents were spotted here and there as well as herds of sheep and goats.
Our first stop was very biblical— Mt. Nebo where Moses, as an old man is supposed to have looked down on the Jordan Valley of Canaan which God had given to the Jews, knowing he was refused admittance. He reportedly may have been buried there too, but others claim many other sites. It is the known spot where he was seen alive. It was somewhat hazy but you could make out the Dead Sea way in the distance.
The Franciscans built a church there and run the site. We saw a nicely preserved mosaic floor, one of several in our travels. The whole place was beautiful and very peaceful and contemplative especially as the Franciscan monks enforced a rule of silence in the church.
Next up was the town of Madaba. St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church was pretty traditional with lots of icons, statues, lamps, and a very famous Byzantine mosaic floor.
It is a map of Palestine with each of the kingdoms labeled. The picture in the courtyard was helpful in identifying each section."
Down the street was lunch, then an informative trip to a Mosaic factory. It was very tourist oriented of course, but was part of a collaborative established by Queen Noor, the widow of King Husain who died around 1990. It insures that local residents, including a mix of special needs people be trained and have jobs in this coop. They make elegant mosaics, most of which are hundreds and thousands of dollars, exquisite rugs, and lesser priced tourist items. We supported the local economy by buying a dish cleverly meant to look like a mosaic. The small mosaic table that Wendy eyed would have cost about $1500 so we declined.
Finally, we arrived at our hotel, the Petra Guest House which is literally next door to the entrance of Petra. It has a cool "Cave Bar" where enjoyed a glass of wine/ beer. This was the first alcohol of the trip. O.A.T ( so far) does not include it, and, since Jordan is a Muslim country, alcohol is not often available and is very expensive when it is. Looking forward to an intense and wonderful visit to Petra tomorrow.