|The Jordanian flag|
Sara's Top 3:
Wadi Rum desert
Floating in the Dead Sea
David's Top 3:
Bethany Beyond the Jordan
Impressions: We loved Jordan! We spent twelve days in the country, longer than most visitors, but there was plenty to see and do. We were happy to be able to spend so much time time in the heart of the Middle East and to get a good taste of the region. We felt completely safe the entire time and very welcome in the country.
People: The people in Jordan are fantastic, some of the friendliest and most welcoming that we met during all of our travels! They love their country and love sharing their culture. We particularly enjoyed meeting and spending time with the Bedouin during our time in the Wadi Rum desert.
Food: The food was fantastic. When we were in Turkey we were expecting to eat more hummus than we did. In Jordan we made up for lost time. Hummus was everywhere. It was served with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yum! Bedouin tea, made with sage, cardamom, cinnamon, and/or wild thyme, and always lots of sugar, was another highlight.
Weather: We arrived in Jordan at the beginning of September. The weather was warm during most of our stay, but it was a nice change from chilly nights in Africa and extremely hot days in Turkey. We were told that September and October are the nicest (and most popular) months to travel to Jordan.
Itinerary: We started with three days in Madaba, and from there took day trips to Jerash, Amman, and several desert castles along the highway to the east toward Baghdad. Then we visited Mt. Nebo, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, and the Dead Sea on our way to Petra for three nights. After Petra, it was onward to Wadi Rum for three nights, and finally Aqaba on the Red Sea for two nights. Jordan Tracks, a travel company in Wadi Rum owned by a local Bedouin, did a fabulous job helping us plan our itinerary.
Driving: Renting a car in Jordan would not be too difficult except for Amman, where driving is not for the faint of heart. We opted not to rent a car in Jordan, instead hiring local drivers to take us from one place to the next. Hired drivers are very affordable, love telling about their country, and let us keep our eyes on the sights rather than the road. We also passed through a couple of checkpoints that could have caused some confusion if we were driving ourselves. David did enjoy driving around the desert in Wadi Rum though!
Religion: Jordan is predominantly a Muslim country, with an indigenous Christian minority making up about 6% of the population. Many of the Jordanian Christians live in Madaba, the first city that we visited. We attended a service (in Arabic) at the Church of St. John the Baptist in Madaba and also enjoyed exploring the excavations underneath the church and taking in the views from the bell tower. Islam is the state religion, but Jordan has laws that promote religious freedom in the country and there is little sectarian conflict.
Clothing: Being a predominantly Muslim country, the majority of men and women dress conservatively. Most women cover their heads, shoulders, and knees. Christian women generally do not cover their heads but still dress conservatively. Sara felt most comfortable wearing clothing that covered her shoulders and knees. She did not cover her head except when entering a mosque. David wore long pants during our visit.
Politics: The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, as it is officially known, is a constitutional monarchy. King Abdullah II is the chief executive and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. We understand that the government is in the midst of implementing democratic reforms in response to the Arab Spring demonstrations and protests in the region. After leaving Jordan we saw this interview of King Abduallah II on the Daily Show when he was in New York for the UN General Assembly.