Thursday, January 25, 2018

Jordan the rest of it

Different coloured lights lit up AL Khazaneh (The treasury) There was a sculpture, sort of an image of a bedouin there and Apu take a picture of it. Here it is lit up by the lamps.

the sun shines down on Hercules' temple...

 We walked through the passage to al Khazaneh the next day and got drenched in the rain. As you can see the water is flowing freely on the ground. Our pants got wet. Our shoes got wet. We got wet. But we kept on walking.

There we are again, freezing in the cold and rain!

Our driver lent me this umbrella which was a saviour. I eventually lost it.

Just like one of the mosaics I'm standing in front of the Al Khazaneh in front of a camel. I don't know how else to say it

My jeans got totally wet and they were coming under my shoes so I had to roll them up. I was freezing and the one sip of chai I had was heaven. I had only one sip because my horse carriage came before I could finish my drink.
The horse carriage guy totally fleeced me but I had no choice as it was raining and all I wanted to do was get to the hotel and have a snooze.

We went to the ST. George cathedral and found this beautiful map made in mosaic.

here's a closer look at the beautiful mosaic.

This is how they make the mosaics. One stone at a time.

A little bit of Picasso in mosaic.

 I loved these parrots but they were way beyond my reach financially.

There she is with the amazing minerals doing their work on her skin. I chose to go to the spa in the hotel where they slather you with dead sea mud and then cover you with a plastic sheet. I also got a massage and it was really good. The masseuse used her forearms to massage my muscles and when I cried out in pain she said," Your muscles like stone!" I let her do as she pleased.

No one drowns in the dead sea! Apu floats with a magazine in her hands.

The temple of Hercules in Amman. Large hands were found here which could only belong to the demigod hercules,

In front of some more ruins...


Lamps from a century ago...

The flag of Jordan

The Roman amphitheatre in Amman

Me at Hercules temple... the end.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Jordan journey

It's been such a long time since I wrote anything here, but my trip to Jordan rejuvenated me and I want to share it with you all! The Emirates ride was good aside from the fact that I had to wake up early to catch  the flight. I watched 'The Big Bang Theory" all through the journey to Amman's Queen Alia airport.

We were met by an effusive Jordanian gentleman called Yousef who got us through immigration in record time. So far so good Phew! He introduced us to our driver also called Yousef. Our itinerary was pre-decided so we drove on to Wadi Rum which is about a four hour long drive from Amman at the other end of the country.
There was a beautiful sunset that accompanied us on the way. We made a stop at a souvenir shop and I came across these beautiful mosaic tables that I absolutely fell in love with. The tree of life is a recurring motif which occurs in mosaics all across Jordan. Below are some more of these beauties.

This is a mosaic in larger size of stones reflecting the Al Khazaneh (The Treasury) with a camel to finish the lovely scene.

Click on the picture to see the wonderful details depicted on these gorgeous tables.

And the journey continued with a single lane road going both sides. Sometimes I was really scared when there were no street lights and I could see the blinding light coming in from the vehicles that seemed to be coming straight for us but fortunately we had an experienced driver and he drove very well with care.

Just look at the fabulous detail on this mirror. I really enjoyed photobombing Apu in this one!

Our driver told us it was a full moon night and what better way to spend the night than in "The Valley of The Moon" Wadi Rum. We took a walk in the expanse in the night and it was so soothingly bright somehow. I know the two words sound like an oxymoron but that's the only way to describe it.

We checked into Captain's camp which is nestled into the lap of Wadi Rum. It's basically a lot of tents with walls made of stone adjacent to each other as you can see a little bit in the picture. The weather was freezing cold and the tent was pretty basic from inside. All we really cared about was that we had three blankets, enough to keep us warm. They had also provided mosquito nets but in the cold I don't think any of them could survive.

I think all of you who really know me know that I love tea but my romance with tea in Jordan took on epic proportions. I actually walked out to the reception and asked for a kettle of hot water, which we did get. Apu carried teabags, milk sachets and sugar. We sat in our little tent and had the most satisfying cup of tea in the world.

I got into the three blankets but I had to cover my head with a shawl before I could drop into a dreamless, sweet sleep.

The next morning after breakfast we set off for a Jeep Ride with our driver whose name I can't remember. All I remember about him was if we asked him something he always answered," That will be ten dollars hehehehehe!"

Apu and I taking a picture by the magnificent rocky terrain. My little Chiyo, isn't she adorable!

I've nicknamed her Chiyo because she is fluent in Japanese and cute like her nickname.

Little Chiyo sitting in the Jeep. The wind was really blowing hard that day and it was so cold with the sun shining down upon us. I loved it.

Next we stopped at a bedouin's tent and he offered me tea as our driver and him chatted in Arabic. I took the cup of sweet tea and when I was finished he offered me another with sheesha(Arabic version of the hookah) but I declined the latter and accepted the former.

At one point while all of us were talking I picked up the driver's tea and drank from it. It had sugar. He asked me," How's the sugar?" I said," I told you no sugar!" He couldn't stop laughing as he told me I was drinking his tea!

I bought some vaseline laced with perfume from the bedouin and two cakes of different fragrances as well. Apu could smell the vaseline fragrance from feet away! I love the smell and even now when I apply it liberally on my hands I'm transported to that bedouin tent.

These magnificent rocks were abundant and the blue sky the perfect counter point.

Apu's profile at the bedouin's tent with the blue sky peeking shyly.

Naturally formed table. Our driver insisted on taking a picture.

The customary picture with the camels.

I look just as scared as I am petting these rather large creatures not necessarily menacing but a bit daunting nonetheless. Actually I was just scared that the camel would spit on me as I petted it!

Our driver stopped here and asked us,"What does it look like?" And we both said in unison,"A face!"

A face with a face. Our driver took this picture. I love it!

Another tent, with another bedouin selling the same stuff I'd already bought. I don't know who the man in the uniform is. I photobombed Apu again!

All of nature's elements come together. Beautiful blue skies checkered with clouds. Rocks eroded by nature. Icy winds making everything come alive!

Here's a picture of our driver and the magnificent rocks sprinkled around Wadi Rum.

A lone windmill in the middle of nowhere set off by the grey ominous clouds. By this time we were on our way to Little Petra.

Right this moment, this little girl is freezing because she's forgotten to wear a coat as she got out of the warm car! Love it!

We had lunch at a place called Mother's recipe. I ordered grilled fish and it was taking an inordinately long time so Apu asked the server,"Why is it taking so long to come?" the server replied,"Do you want it raw?" But to be honest it's the best grilled fish I've ever had. So totally worth the wait and the server's audacity.

This mountain goat climbed all the stairs there were! I stayed on the ground and took pictures.

The first glimpse of things to come at Little Petra. Look at the beautiful hall carved into stone and the mysterious caves.

At a man made huge gate to a hall at the enrance of Little Petra.

A shop selling arabic patterned scarves and jewellery. Be careful what you buy because a lot of the stuff is not silver but they'll try to pawn it off as real.

This reminded me of that British series "Upstairs Downstairs". The owners live upstairs in posh surroundings while the servants reside in caves.

Here's a truly interesting character. I asked him," Where do you live?" He replied," I have a house in the village and I have a cave I live in." I asked surprised," You live in a cave?" He said," Yes, it is more peaceful. There are no beable (people) there." The arabs generally pronounce 'p' as 'b'.

Apu thought he was the long lost brother of Jack Sparrow! I tend to agree. I was looking through his shop and found nothing interesting.

The rocks were something else... eroded by nature and yet magnificent.

The visitor's centre which is the entrance to Petra has a small museum and I saw this beautiful bust there. This is Dushara, the equivalent of Zeus for the Nabateans who created the lost city of Petra. Zeus in Greek mythology is the King of God, the ruler of Mount Olympus where all the Greek gods reside.

Petra by night is another experience altogether. The path to Al Khazaneh (The treasury) is lit with lamps. As I was walking the two kilometers of passage that leads to one of the new seven wonders of the world a thought occured to me. It's absolutely dark aside from the lamps on the floor, what if there's a murder? It would make the perfect setting for an Agatha Christie novel.

As all of us sat in front of Al Khazaneh we were told to keep the flash of our cameras off but some people didn't listen and it annoyed me to no end. As I took a picture the elbow of the woman in front of me would come into the frame and that annoyed me even more.

And then the performance started. A bedouin played the flute and we were transported into history. It was absolutely beautiful. I stopped taking pictures and silently wished everyone else would too but they didn't. I took very few pictures on this trip. I stopped because I wanted to be in the moment and not remember it through my phone. I wanted to BE there. All of me. The woman in front of me couldn't stop fiddling with her phone as a bedouin sang a mesmerising song accompanied by the Rabab (Arabic instrument, father of the violin). And yet it was beautiful and then as we walked back filled with memories, the day ended.