A work conference took me back to the Middle East, this time to Jordan. I have come to love traveling in the Middle East after visits to Beirut, Lebanon and Istanbul, Turkey. It was great to be able to explore another country in this beautiful part of the world.
Our conference was held right at the edge of the Dead Sea. We could look across and see Israel and even pick out the road from Jericho up to Jerusalem. On a clear day, you could even make out the skyline of Jerusalem in the distance.
The conference organized a couple of outings for us and we got to visit some significant Biblical sites, including Mt. Nebo and the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized. What’s interesting about that is over the years the river has changed course, so we saw both the traditional site, that no longer has water as well as the site along the current path of the river. The traditional site is marked by the ruins of a Byzantine church, the only one that has been found to be built on stone pillars over water. They also took us to the town of Madaba, which has a mosaic map from 542 A.D. of the Holy Lands.
The second outing was to Petra, one of the 7 Wonders of the World. I was so excited about seeing this, and not just because I’m an Indiana Jones fan! Sadly, because it was so far from our hotel and because we had a big group, we only got two hours to explore. I should also mention it takes about an hour and a half to hike in and out! Needless to say I didn’t go much past The Treasury but I was still AMAZED at the ancient carvings in the rock from around 100 B.C.
Of course, I couldn’t go to the Dead Sea and not take a float! What a feeling! It was so surreal to be able to float on the water with no effort and even “stand up” completely straight without touching the bottom. The buoyancy gave a feeling of almost weightlessness and, just like you see with astronauts in space, it was really easy to over rotate your body when you tried to move.
The other great thing about the Dead Sea is the mud. Because of the high mineral content it is sold for big bucks as a mud mask. But if you’re there at source, you can get it for free! They even have a guy there who will rub it on you if you want. After a quick soak in the Sea you rub the mud all over and let it dry. Then wash it off and get a sea salt rub down before showering. It was amazing! My skin was soft for days!
I loved my time in Jordan, even though it was spent mostly in a conference room. I am already looking forward to coming back later in the year for a couple days with a tour group.