Day 5: Petra
As a group we decided to wake up before the rest of the tourists so that we could have Petra to ourselves. It was the smartest decision we made! Our hotel was at the entrance of the park so no need for buses; we just walked on down to the entrance! Well... some of us walked on down. The others decided to jump on horses and gallop down!
Petra was BEAUTIFUL and quickly became everyone's favorite location. At one point, our guide asked us to pull off to the right side in a single line. The path was quite large so we were confused why we were standing so close to the wall. After that he had us turn around to look at a mountain and walk to the other side, asking us what animal we saw in the mountain. About half of the pilgrims were able to point out animals while the others wondered why our brains could not see the animal in the mountain. It turned out that we un-creative pilgrims weren't crazy. There was no animal in the mountain. As he admitted his trick, he told us to turn around and suddenly we had the most beautiful view of the Treasury, the classic facade many know from the Indiana Jones movie. The entire group gasped as we saw it peering through the rocks and were thankful the guide tricked us so that we could all experience the magical moment together as a group.
The rest of Petra was no less magical. Group members could be found riding camels, donkeys, and
horse-drawn carriages. The horse-drawn carriages sped through the street with no regard to walkers.
Riders could be found bouncing so far out of their seats they thought they'd fall out! Camel riders were equally frightened by the height and inability to hold on! It was truly a blast. Others explored the caves and walked around taking pictures. Katherine even stumbled upon some local Bedouins living in a cave who offered her tea and chatted about life.
After Petra we freshened up quickly in our rooms and then took the long bus ride back north. We made a stop at Mt. Nebo, Moses' last stop before he died, overlooking the Holy Land. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Jerusalem. Today we were able to see the Dead Sea and a faint glimpse of Jericho in the distance. We saw some ancient mosaics and learned about the symbolism inside the images. On our way to Amman, we made a quick stop at a Mosaic Learning Center to learn about how mosaics are created and then had the chance to do some shopping. The Mosaic Center employs Syrian refugees to help them create a life for themselves inside Jordan. Pilgrims bought items made by the Syrian refugees, some even having the local artist sign the back of their mosaic.
Back at Amman, we enjoyed a buffet dinner and for many of us, FINALLY got some sleep! The consensus across the group was that Jordan was a lovely surprise! Tomorrow we go to the Jordan River to renew our baptisms, cross through the border, and set up shop in Jericho, where we'll check into our hotel, visit the Sycamore Tree where Zacchaeus climbed the tree to see Jesus and see the Mount of Temptations, where Jesus was tempted by the Devil in his 40-day fast in the desert.