Sunday, April 8, 2018

My Love To Jordan

Jordan with its olive trees, yellow sand, salty water, happy days and sad moments; I love all of it.

When I am asked about Jordan, I must be silent. How can I find the right words to describe this lovely country? In my eyes I see the map of Jordan as a handsome man, bending and beckoning visitors to come in. With its small economy and big heart, Jordan will always open its gates to the people who need it.

The many civilizations from the history of Jordan can be touched and seen  in different places and cities: Amman, Salt, Jerash, Irbid, Ajloun, UmmQais, Pella, Umm Al-Jimal, Dead Sea, Jordan River, Madaba, Karak, Shobak, Wadi Rum, Aqaba, and Petra.  Each place has a special story to tell whether from the Greek civilization, the Roman, the Byzantine or maybe even the Arab Islamic one.

In many places in Jordan, you can sit at a table in a hotel or restaurant and see one of the ancient ruins out of the window.

I have traveled to many cities in the world and can say the best weather to enjoy with all of the seasons, will only be found in Jordan.

What a nice feeling when you drive to the Dead Sea at the lowest point on earth, swimming in it's salty water knowing you will never sink, while also enjoying the sunset at evening. A relaxing and peaceful feeling you will only experience in this place. Then you could drive to Ajloun only one and a half hours away, to be at one of the highest mountains in Jordan. There you can enjoy the green forest, fresh air, hiking to the ancient castle, bird watching, flowers and rare plants, or be blessed by the Tell Mar Elias church there (Church of the Prophet Elijah).

If you want to wander through the mist of time, Amman is the place. It is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world and has seen many civilizations pass through. Amman began in the Bronze Age, was passed on to the Ammonites, the Romans, and the Byzantine, ending with the Islamic civilization in 720 AD.

Salt is a historic town that takes you to the Ottoman Empire, while Jerash is one of the best preserved ancient Roman cities in the world.

Umm Qais is the most dramatically situated of Jordan's ancient Roman towns. The name was Gadara, which means "a stronghold." Meanwhile, ruins of Pella portray a dramatic sweep of history, from the Bronze and Iron Ages to the Islamic civilization. There are many things to see in Umm Al-Jimal, the ruins of the Nabatean temple, several churches, the great barracks and many more.

Near the northern end of the Dead Sea, the waters of the Jordan River trickle into the Baptismal Site, the third most holy site for Christians in the world, and where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. This is also where Prophet Elijah was lifted to heaven in a whirlwind. Nearby are the mountains of Moab and Mount Nebo where the Prophet Moses first saw the Promised Land and where God then buried him. Also near there is Madaba, where you can see the oldest mosaic map in the Middle East, depicting important holy sites throughout the land.

There are also many crusader and Islamic castles to visit in Karak, Shobak, Ajloun, Aqaba, Qasayr Amra, and Qasr Azraq. These castles are breathtaking. Walk inside and imagine the great and secure life they were living.

Petra is a living museum of 10,000 years of human history. Its architecture shows Assyrian, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine influences. The beauty of its rose-colored sandstone reflected by the sun, will take your breath away. There are many monuments and sites to discover in Petra: the Treasury, the Monastery, the carved Siq, the Colonnaded street, the Byzantine Church, the Great TEmple, Petra Church, and many more treasures still lie hidden beneath the sand. Creative and hardworking people were buried there with their secrets in the amazing tombs.

Wadi Rum (The Valley of the Moon) is one of the most memorable destinations in Jordan, and has been since the dawn of time. The image of the mountains surrounding it will stick in your mind forever. It is a courageous place. An ambassador who was a dear friend once told me,he could not allow a weekend to pass without going and enjoying the peaceful feeling there.

Another two hours drive and you will be in the Red Sea port of Aqaba. It has one of the most colorful sea lives in all the world, with over 500 species of coral and over 1200 species of fish. You can dive in and think you are in heaven. What a nice feeling and joyful time you will spend
swimming and diving in the Red Sea. After coming out of the water, the warm sun will cover your body and your soul.

No matter where you go in Jordan, you will always meet people who love you and welcome you. Ahlan wa sahlan, they will say and maybe even invite you to have tea or lunch in their house. They will always offer their help if you need it. They are some of the most hospitable and kind people in the world.

Food is a deeply symbolic part of Jordanian culture, with its rich flavors, it leaves the tongue begging for just one more taste. It delights the palate and satisfies the senses.

Jordan is a treasure box, filled with opportunities and the more you learn about the different regions of the Kingdom, the more you will want to explore. Welcome to Jordan!

By: Luma Al-Masri
Editor and Publisher of books about the country of Jordan.