Thursday February 19 - Jordan - Petra

Thursday February 19 - Jordan - Petra
This morning Larry, Ann, Lev and I became part of a new "tribe", the rainbow bus, on its way to Jordan. It's called "rainbow" because we've all been parts of colour groups, so are all wearing different coloured name tags. Because there's a major storm expected through the region we've been told to stay flexible. They'll do whatever is necessary for us to see Petra and get back safely to our flights on Saturday, so the itinerary is fluid. It was raining as we left Jerusalem, with snow expected later.
We drove through some very barren, sculpted landscape around the border area, and changed to a Jordanian bus at the border. There was a bit of delay while our passports were processed but no problems. Our guide, Michel,

confirmed that we'd be going directly to Petra today, because of the incoming storm. [ both Petra and Amman are high altitude so several feet of snow is expected ].
We passed a huge tell where excavations are proceeding, that is believed to the the site of Sodom. As we climbed from 1000 feet below sea level to 3000' above, we had the Gilead Mountains on our left.

We reached the Plains of Moab, where the story of Ruth took place. Moses crossed here and saw the Promised Land from Mt. Nebo.
Lunch at the Petra Magic Restaurant was very good. We could have soup only, or the whole buffet. The view was great.

Then came Petra -- the reason for the trip and well worth it! From the bus we started downhill, at first across wide-open areas. It gradually narrowed until we were in a very deep, very confined canyon. Horse-drawn buggies jounced by, and young men showed off their riding skills on other horses. We could have ridden, but most, or maybe all the goup walked. There were, of course, the usual souvenir hawkers, but our attention was held by the beauty of the place. The Siq (canyon) twists and turns, with surprises around every bend, gravel or asphalt or Roman paving stones underfoot, water courses along the sides. Some areas have carved tombs, and others rounded caves. The colours are varied because the sandstone contains many minerals. There are reds, greens, yellows, blacks and beiges. Nearly a mile in, the Siq ends at "the Treasury", and absolutely stunning sight. Just as we arrived there, the first pellets of hail hit us. Michel let all know that we mustn't tarry, so we started back up to the bus. Of course it's uphill going out, so we were not exactly racing. By he time Hasan got us back out onto the road, the snow was accumulating and conditions quickly deteriorated. Then the fog settled in. It was a slow trip, but he's a great driver. Meanwhile, Michel was awaiting word on where to take us for the night. The decision was a resort by the Dead Sea. We stopped once to stretch and finally got the our hotel around 10 pm. They had kept the dining room open, so we had dinner and turned in.



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