Category Archives: Jordan

Miracle Dead Sea Mud and the crazy Medusa lady!

Dead Sea mud is rich with minerals that many believe to have therapeutic and even medicinal benefits. A woman at my hotel was obsessed with it, saying it’s a miracle skincare solution. I wish I could convey her overwhelming enthusiasm for…mud. “It’s amazing. Uh-May-Zing!”  Her Medusa hair swayed with each animated sentence. She went on to explain that it’s the raw materials for multiple Jordanian Dead Sea cosmetic product lines bottled and sold all around the world. If you believe the hype (and the crazy German lady!), it’s not just great for cleansing and stimulating the skin (apparently it worked wonders for her teenage daughter’s acne), but can also be used to improve blood circulation, relieve muscle and emotional tension, offer immortality, and ease rheumatic pain.  I’m not 100% sure I heard one of those accurately but she mentioned quite a few benefits in her interesting yet painfully slow never-ending list.  It reminded me of the scene(s) in Forrest Gump when Bubba’s listing the varieties of shrimp meals. “Shrimp Gumbo, Shrimp-n-Peas…”  [If you just got a sudden urge to see that Gump scene (I did!), here’s the 0:43 clip from YouTube below]

Floating in the Dead Sea in Jordan

It’s called the “Dead Sea” because the salt content isn’t exactly welcoming for underwater life – it’s one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water (33% saltine). Due to the hypersalination of the water, you can float!

Dead Sea - Jordan side - Look closely and you'll see I'm reading a Japanese newspaper!

In this photos from the Dead Sea on the Jordan side, I have both hands and feet out of the water as I float. I found a newspaper for the photo but it was just a prop. Look closely and you’ll see I’m reading a Japanese newspaper!

Entering the Dead Sea – don’t jump in!

Welcome to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth (1,388 feet below sea level).

I had a bad scrape from Indonesia that I had forgotten about until the salt from the Dead Sea found my wound. Ouch!  Then a few splashes later and my eyes were burning like I had never felt before!  Most people’s instinct is to rub them (with their hands, still wet from the Dead Sea), which makes them hurt even more.

Roman acoustics – ancient Gerasa’s surprisingly modern technology

I’m continually impressed by the sophistication of technology from years back. Most theaters have points marked before a performance on where to stand, but this was done for acoustics. The Romans built this theater in such a way that there’s a point in the front where simply talking will be loud enough for the whole audience to hear, as if you’re speaking into a microphone with speakers. Natural amplification!  Do modern theaters and public speaking places do this?  Obviously I tried it – while we were talking I stepped on the marked square and people that were in the upper deck could hear me without raising my voice. I wish I had a photo of the startled look of the tourists taking photos from the top. See below.

Got out of Bahrain just in time!

Just a few short weeks after leaving Jordan and Bahrain, the Middle East fell apart. Egypt has been all over the news, but there’s been quite a bit going on in Bahrain and Jordan (where I traveled) as well. I’m now out safely – I’ll post more of Jordan today but wanted to let you know that I’m out safely.  The New York Times just posted this story with an update on what’s going on in Bahrain:

Clashes Erupt in Bahrain as Tumult Ripples Across Mideast

Bahrain - tear gas and rubber bullets used to disperse protesters in Diraz in2011
Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters in Diraz, Bahrain

This small nation in the Persian Gulf, with only about one million residents, half of them foreign workers, has long been among the most politically volatile in the region. The principal tension is between the royal family under King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and the ruling elites, who are mostly Sunnis, on one side, and the approximately 70 percent of the local population that is Shiite on the other. Occupying mostly run-down villages with cinder block buildings and little else, many Shiites say they face systemic discrimination in employment, housing, education and government.

Ancient Gerasa – Roman ruins in Jordan

My first stop on the road trip through Jordan was Jerash, which includes the ancient city founded by the Romans in the 1st century BCE  (called Gerasa at the time). It’s my first time seeing a city that was part of the Decapolis (Greek: Deca = 10, Polis =
town/city), a grouping of ten towns in what is now Jordan, Syria and northern Israel.

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

The Jordan trip includes stops in Jerash, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea, the desert of Wadi Rum, and of course Petra!

How’d I end up including Jordan in my SE Asia itinerary? Explained here.

Location: Jordan borders Israel to the west, sharing control of the Dead Sea.  It also borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the east, Syria to the north and West Bank. Jordan’s only port is at its southern tip, at the Gulf of Aqaba, which is shared with Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Source: Wikipedia

Map below

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