So I went to Jordan last week... and I had so much fun! Some of you may recall that I lived in a Bedouin village, Um Sayhoun, just above Petra last summer for about 6 weeks during my archaeology field school. So going back to Petra felt like going to a little piece of home for me. Of course I was absolutely bombarded with questions from 100 people in my group about Petra, things they should do and see, where I lived, what I did, etc. But I was just so happy to be back that I didn't mind the questions. While everyone hiked the 860 stairs up to Al-Deir, aka the Monastery, I had permission to stay behind on my own. It was my favorite part of the entire trip to Jordan. I got to explore a lot of the places in the main city of Petra that I didn't have a chance to last summer. I finally found the Roman Bathhouse, which was so cool for me! **Last year, in preparation for my dig in Italy (that I didn't end up doing), I intensively studied and researched Roman bathhouses. But because I didn't end up going, I have never actually gotten to see a bathhouse in person.** Like a nerd, I recorded all of the rooms and the order they were supposed to be in and then I walked through the whole complex trying to figure out which room was which. I actually did pretty well, with only a couple minor rooms left unsure about. I was so excited, even though I was completely alone. My excitement perplexed me though, because a couple weeks prior, I had decided not to continue in archaeology for Grad School. Well shoooooot. If I am this excited about walking through a Roman Bathhouse that someone else found, how much more excited would I have been to actually take part in finding it!! So much for thinking my life plan was coming along... haha.
Also while I was in Petra, I ran into several Bedouins who knew Dr. Johnson and Holly Raymond, or had relatives that had worked with us last summer. One man, Attalah, made the connection with me that it was his sister who cooked lunch and dinner for us. She would always bring her beautiful baby girl with her. Big brown eyes and dark curly hair. She melted my heart in an instant. It was so fun to reconnect... even though it was with people I didn't know originally. But once I mentioned that I had lived in their village, they stopped treating me like a tourist and started just conversing with me. Attalah told me I was half-Bedouin and he offered me a chair to sit in while I waited for some friends. Bedouins, and even Arabs in general, are the most generous and sincere people I have ever met. I'm trying hard not to be bias living in Israel, but the Israelis are definitely not the warm, inviting, generous people you would hope to find... especially since $3 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars are going to them. I'm just saying...
But moving on, the rest of our Jordan trip included a stay in Amman. We visited Jerash, the Roman city which was part of the Decapolis where Christ came and preached. We got to watch a reenactment of a Roman chariot horse, and a demonstration of a Legion and their war tactics... Tanner would have been SO jealous if he'd known. :) ALSO, there was a dig going on in Jerash, right by the second gate to the city... don't worry. I told them I was an archaeologist while I took pictures of them, and they stopped working and handed me the pick axe. I was again the happiest little almost-archaeologist you have ever seen. So I put down all of my things and jumped in and started picking the ground where they were working. So, even though it's a little exaggerated, I totally got to dig in Jerash!!! :) hmmm... you think God is trying to tell me something? haha
We also stopped at Mt. Nebo, Madaba, "Dana Restaurant" for lunch, an overlook for the Jabbok River, visited the Amman Branch where we had a meeting with the Branch President, went to the Abdullah I Mosque, the Amman Citadel (where we saw a man fall off a cliff... definitely too much excitement in one day), and finally the Jordan River at one of the traditional sites where Jesus was baptized. There we had a sweet, powerful meeting about baptism, John, Jesus, etc. We sang a couple primary songs, and as we did all of the other tourists started gathering around us. It was a very tender experience, and definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
Jordan is still one of my all time favorite places I've been in all of my travels. The people, the places, the food... all the best that the Middle East has to offer. I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who is looking for a new place to travel. This will definitely not be my last time. :)
Picture Recap from the week: