Posted by: lifeinthelevant | April 9, 2009

Visiting Jordan – Part 1

This was actually written last week (on Friday, April 3rd) but the upload had to be delayed till I got back to normal life in TLV and could access some of the trip pictures.


I decided to stop by at an internet cafe in Petra, Jordan and finally write something to revive the blog!

The past few days before heading to Jordan: Got a couple of invitations for Pesach (the passover meal). One with a new Jewish believer whose family isn’t yet aware of his beliefs which could make for a very interesting meal. And another with a family from the assembly who were expecting their next child at any moment.  So, she invited me with the caveat that she’ll have to cancel the meal if she’s in the hospital! And, the passover meal conflicts with meetings at work on Wednesday – so I’m not sure if I should skip work or the passover meal. I told them I’d let them know by Tuesday when I get back to TLV. And the assembly has their own Pesach meal on Thursday – so, that might be my best option!

Friday: Found a bus to Eilat (5 hrs from TLV) and got there in the afternoon. Then found a cab to the border at Arava. The crossing was trivial and all the border guards kept asking me my opinion of Obama. Of course, on the Israeli side (especially if you talk to older people) the correct answer is that he isn’t all that great and that McCain was probably better all things considered. This stems from Obama’s overtures toward Iran among other things and makes Israel very nervous. On the Arab side you better love Obama and say he’s the best thing since sliced bread and such a welcome relief after Bush. 🙂 Yes, politics is a topic best avoided by travellers, unless you already know what the locals believe! 🙂


At the Arava border (above), a Brit and a Belgian came up to me and offered to share a private car and driver they had arranged to reduce their costs – which was great since I would have had to pay 50 dinar if I went by myself for the 120 km trip from Aqaba to Petra. Instead, I only had to pay 15 dinar.

I arrived in Petra after 4 pm and tried to get some Mansaf for lunch/dinner. I’ve been dreaming about Mansaf for a long time ever since Ravi Zacharias said it was one of his most memorable experiences in Jordan. Unfortunately, (being Friday when most things are closed) there was no Mansaf to be found, and I settled for some yellow rice with chicken. Perhaps, I’ll get my Mansaf tomorrow…

While we (the Belgian traveler and I) were sitting at the restaurant, a Jordanian guy nearby (who said he was from Seattle) decided to tell us about a great hotel in town (which we later found he owned). We checked it out (Saba’a Inn) and since it was much cheaper than the place I had already booked (12 dinar/night as opposed to 35 at the much fancier place I’d booked), I ended up staying there.

After dropping off some of my stuff, we went out for a walk around the streets of Petra. Most of the shops were closed but we ran into a group of Jordanian teenagers who took me to a few interesting mountain peaks with great views of Petra city below. They also had a really fast Arabian horse which seemed to be their latest toy and they were very keen to teach me how to ride. I really wanted to take them up on the offer, but looking at the cliffs and the huge fall into the valley below from the mountain I politely declined figuring that the horse would probably throw me off a few times before I got the hang of it. They then offered me a pack of cigarettes which seems to be the vice of choice around here given the scarcity of hard drugs and alcohol. I’ve always wondered whether the Altria group really has a future given all the regulations against smoking in the US. But seeing all the chain-smoking teenagers here makes it clear that their easy availability sadly gives cigarettes quite a stronghold in the Middle East in the absence of hard drugs and alcohol. They were also quite surprised that I didn’t smoke since their ad exposure had suggested that anyone from the West smoked heavily!

Here’s a picture of the young Jordanian rider.
After watching the sunset from the mountain, I headed back to town for a simple Shawarma dinner after which I found an internet cafe to write up this blog post. And Lord Willing, here are the plans for the next few days.

Tomorrow: Walk through old Petra which has been preserved since Nabatean times a few thousand years ago and see the sites.

Sunday/Monday: Head to Wadi Rum which encompasses a huge area near the Saudi-Jordan border. It is supposed to be one of the most stunning desert landscapes around. Find a good Bedouin guide and a camel/horse and spend Sunday & Monday in the desert. Get back to civilization (Aqaba) by early Tuesday morning and then journey back to Tel Aviv by Tuesday afternoon so I can catch up with work. Please pray that my cold/sore throat would get better with the hot desert air and wouldn’t interfere too much with my trip.

That’s all for now, folks!



  1. Rock on, Jeff!

    Also, have a blessed Triduum these next three days.

  2. Hi Jeff..This is Jerry from ABC. Glad to see you have settled in and had a chance to visit places. Will you be back in Jerusalem for Easter? Probably lots of things going on in the Christian places there during that time.
    Don’t forget to swim in the the Red Sea 🙂

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