His name is Wajdi, a 60-year-old man. I almost believe that he is Santa and I’m pretty sure you will think in the same way I did. He has been a guide for almost 30 years. He lives in Amman with 2 wives and 6 (?) children. His second wife is half his age. From his first wife, they have 2 children (?), and another four from his second wife. “I feel lonely when the kids were getting married and have their own life”, that was the reason he decided to get married for the second time. His late Dad was an actor in Jordan. And he loves his mother so much and will do anything for her, including to rent a house in a very high-end area in Amman, even though his earning is not that much. He speaks like a royal and always calls us “My Lady”. I even got a new name, Amelie. In our first day with him, he always emphasizes us that he is not only our tour guide but also our bodyguard, “I will protect you and make you feel secure while in Jordan”, he said. His family is also kind. We’re having so much fun playing with Raid, Noor, Nadine, and the baby! We always spend dinner in their house while we’re in Amman. Our first Jordan’s menu called upside down, it’s similar with Nasi Kebuli in Indonesia. So delicious! And the dessert is superb! Fresh strawberry and baklava, yummy! The next dinner, they cooked Zucchini with meat inside. Great food!
Thanks to his 30 years’ experience as a tour guide, we’re having such amazing experience in Jordan. We almost did not follow our itinerary, we just gave him the list of places we want to visit and activities we want to do. Our first day starts with city tour Amman continued to Madaba, Mount Nebo, and ended at Dead Sea. Our first pit stop in Roman amphitheater located only 300m from our lodge. There is also Jordan cultural museum inside the amphitheater. While heading to Citadel, we passed by the King Abdullah’ office. In Citadel area, there is Archeology Museum and Umayyad Palace. It took almost one hour to reach Madaba from Amman. Madaba is famous for Madaba Map, a 6th century mosaic map of Jerusalem. The map preserved inside the St. George church. It only needs 15 minute drive to reach Mount Nebo from Madaba. Mount Nebo believed is the place where Moses granted to view the promised land or Palestine. Even no real tomb of Moses, but it is believed that he was buried there. From Mount Nebo, we drove to Dead Sea via Jordan valley. We spent the afternoon in private beach of Holiday Inn. You will feel like in the sauna when you are in Dead Sea. It’s below the sea level, so the temperature is higher. In summer, the weather will be hot but the water of Dead Sea is cold. And you will experience the other way in winter time. It is not recommended to stay in the beach more than one hour if you have asthma.
Our plan in second day is to visit Jerash and Ajloun. However, Wajdi took us to Ajloun prior Jerash. And that was a good decision! Ajloun fortress situated at 1500m above sea level. It was so cold and quite windy. If we go to Jerash then Ajloun, we will never get the top of that fortress. Why? Because exploring Jerash was so exhausting! This historical roman city has 800,000 square meter size and hilly pathways. There is a main theater inside this city. The stage surrounded by oval-shaped wall which create excellent sound system.
In our third day, we initially planned to go to Wadi Mujib and Karak Castle. However, Wajdi recommend going to Dana Village and Shoubak Castle instead. And once again, he’s damn right! The view of valley in Dana village is awesome! Eagles and black-yellow bird are flying above that valley. The rocks in the valley change into red when the sun reflects its light on to it. The houses in that village preserved since Ottoman era. Shoubak Castle offers you an experience that you will never forget, taking picture with Roman soldiers! We’re heading to Wadi Musa for the place that we always want to visit, Petra. Do you know that Jordan also has Little Petra? Little Petra is only 20 minute drive from Petra, also built by Nabateans, and it connected to Petra. Little Petra is also known as Nabatean Temple. You may spend less than one hour to explore Little Petra. If Petra known as Rose city for its red sandstone, Little Petra is known as white Petra since it has paler sandstone rock.
We stayed at candles hotel, located 300m from Petra entrance gate. It was raining when we arrived at the hotel. Yes, it was raining, in mid-May.
His name is Saleh. An engineer who later become a tour guide because makes more money. We were picked up at the hotel at 7 AM and wait at the entrance gate because Petra closed at that day. After 9 french tourists died in Petra’s siq, the tourism ministry always closes Petra whenever rain comes. The path ways to Petra’s monastery called Siq. Siq is a Gorge, a narrow valley between hills or mountains, typically with steep rocky walls and a stream running through it. If rain comes, the gorge will become a waterfall and will flood its pathways. On our half way to Monastery, rain starts falling again. Saleh said that we’d better hurry because Petra will be closed soon. We made it to the Monastery after we ran as fast as we could. After 5 minutes in the monastery, jeeps from tourism ministry came to pick us up. All tourists in the monastery were being evacuated. No exception. All tourists need to be in the jeeps because Siq flooded. We feel like having an Indiana Jones’ experience at that time. We were at the same jeep with US woman who said that her guide advised to bring rain coat, and she replied back by saying who brings rain coat to the desert, can’t agree more! We’re so lucky because even rain stopped at 10.30 AM, Petra closed for all day due to heavy flood in the Siq. Can you imagine if people who only have one day to explore Petra and already traveled 4 – 5 hours from Amman, and they found that Petra was closed? Thanks Saleh!
Wajdi invited us to his house in Wadi Musa. So, here we are, sitting in the couch, watching Beautiful Mind with Petra scenery outside Wajdi’s house. Life is good 🙂
At 4 PM, we left Wadi Musa for Wadi Rum. Wadi means valley and we have to climb the hill to reach Wadi Rum. Wadi Musa located 800m above sea level while Wadi Rum at 500m. The hill located 1500m above sea level. When we were leaving Wadi Musa for the hill, the bright sky turns to green and grey then storm happened. A storm with round ice drops that feels like our car being shot with icey bullets
Mahatmi and I are very hygienic people. I admit that I have obsessive compulsive disorder. I can’t live without hand sanitizer. So when Wajdi offered a lifetime experience, we just said: What?? No way. Wajdi convinced us that we will have unforgettable experience, “you will have one million dollar view in there”. What kind of experience is that? Go camping in Wadi Rum’s desert. Yes, sleeping in the tent, under the sky, in the middle of nowhere. Still, we said: No way, we never go camping in our entire life. Ten minutes later, we said yes, let’s do camping in the desert.
Our camping area was excellent. We got a VIP room, which was even better than our lodge in Amman. It’s a semi-permanent tent with great bathroom. Until today, we never believe that two hygienic girls would spend overnight in a desert. There are only 4 tourists (including us) in this camping area. Others cancelled their reservations due to heavy rain in Wadi Musa. They were so afraid Wadi Rum will also get flooded. How does it feel to sleep in the desert? so cold!! However, like Wajdi said, we experienced one million dollar view! So stunning!
Wajdi arranged a full day tour in the next day. Starts with jeep tour and ended with camel tour. While waiting for the jeep tour, we have a chat with a British guy who loves to travel and work for the IMG, a sport agent for Rafael Nadal, yes Rafael Nadal, my favorite tennis player!! And he plans to hike the sandstone cliff, which is more difficult because the sand is looser.
“Wow”..that’s the only word we said during our jeep tour. Please see my web album for the breath-taking view. Two camels ready to serve us when we arrive at the camp area. It’s almost 1 PM at noon, yes.. We will ride camel in the desert at 1 PM. Thank God, I have my umbrella on me 🙂 . Our camel guide is a Sudan refugee and he walked during the tour. You have my respect Sir!
Jordan’s unforgettable moments:
- If it’s in Israel/Palestine, everything is so expensive. In Jordan, everything is cheap. The food, beverage, everything! The fruit is so fresh! You will get a fresh juice with only 1 dinar.
- Jordan’s government shows a real concern towards their local farmers. Domestic needs will come first than to have things exported.
- Don’t try turkish bath if you are looking for relaxing massage
More stories are illustrated in my web album “An Illustrated Journey”