It was finally time to see the beauty of Petra and Wadi Rum. Sights that have been recommended by nearly every Jordanian I meet!
The week started as usual on Sunday. I have been talking to my coworkers about a movie they have to see that makes fun of the culture in Brabant; New Kids! New Kids portrays a group of young men struggling in life. The movie is quite absurd which makes it funny but still accurately displays some levels of the culture found in the south of the Netherlands. On Monday it was time reverse the cultural exchange, which led me to play backgammon for the first time! Backgammon is one of the oldest board games known to humankind. Excavations at Shahr-e Sukhteh in Iran have shown that a similar board race game existed there around 3000 BC. The game is played with two dices and the first player to remove all the pieces from the board wins!
During the week I also visited another innovation lab in Kafreen, a small city close to the Dead Sea, less touched by Westerns. In Kafreen I met these guys; they didn’t speak English, but sign language gets you far and we were able to share a moment of understanding.
I also watched the Bayern Munich – Real Madrid match in the city. Jordanians are obsessed with Real Madrid and Barcelona. In my experience, the majority support Real Madrid but there is also a huge Barcelona fanbase. Watching the game in a local Argeela restaurant was lots of fun, all the eyes were glued to the screen and when the game turned around in the second half everybody was really excited! Almost everybody, my host, and my German Friend Eike were rooting for Bayern, too bad for them! :P.
Another dish I love here in Jordan, besides Hummus, Mutabal and Foul is Falafel and my friends call me a falafel addict here in Amman. A falafel pita sets you back between 0.3-0.4 JD (~0.5 euro) if you go for a pita and 0.7-0.8 JD (~1 euro) if you go with a ka’ek (a type of sesame bread). I love the ka’ek!
The day before Eastern I got invited by Sam to prepare for Eastern with his family. They traditionally color the eggs the night before Eastern. That had to be tried! After the traditional experience, we went to Carakale, Jordan’s first microbrewery! The microbrewery is close to a valley and that allows for a stunning sunset!
The rest of the week was filled with planning (I also booked my next trip; to Singapore in May) and taming the excitement for the big weekend and Eastern trip to Petra and Wadi Rum! We rented a car and drove off towards the South! We left for Petra on Sunday morning the 16th, explored the city of Petra for a few hours before driving to Wadi Rum where we slept in traditional Bedouin tents. On the 17th we took a 3-hour jeep tour through the desert, wakeboarded on the sand and saw a stunning piece of Jordan before heading back to Amman.
Petra is an ancient city dating back to as early as 312 BC. It is assumed to be the former capital of the Nabataeans, a group of people that spread out in the Levant before it was conquered by Trajan and annexed to the Roman Empire. Petra is big! It extends for at least 60 square kilometers through canyons, up mountains, and along river beds.Nowadays it is the symbol of Jordan and the most visited tourist site. Petra is one of the new 7 world wonders, amongst others like the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal.
Wadi Rum (valley of the moon) is the largest valley of Jordan. It is a beautiful place as you can judge by the photos and has been used a filming location for many movies. For instance: The Martian, Lawrence of Arabia, Red Planet and the Transformers. Wadi Rum is also home to the Zalabia Bedouin who have made a financial success of developing eco-adventure tourism, now their main source of income. The area is now one of Jordan’s important tourist destinations and attracts an increasing number of foreign tourists, particularly trekkers and climbers.
Last but not least; yesterday was Eike’s last day in Jordan. It won’t be the same without him! For me, the journey continues and I extended my visa for Jordan. It was quite a funny and lengthy process but I will tell that story in person 🙂 Bottomline; I got the extension and can stay for another 2 months!