It’s a comparitively small country (compared to America) and is about the size of Indiana. What makes it interesting is that there’s pretty much nothing there. It’s almost all desert.
There’s a small bit of arable land, next to the Jordan River that divides Israel and Jordan, but the rest is empty and dry. It is full of animals, though. We drove by more livestock there than I’ve ever seen in my life. This is a picture of some of the sheep we saw but we also saw camels, goats, and cows as well.
When we crossed over into Jordan we were all a little nervous. We were, after all, in the Middle East where America is not the most popular country. Our apprehension increased when, at the border crossing, our tour guide took our passports and disappeared for awhile. He brought them back, but I was a little nervous about handing mine over. While we were there at the border crossing most of the ladies took the opportunity to use the facilities while waiting for their passports to come back.
Let me tell you, the bathrooms were truly…well…they left us speechless. They were essentially holes in the ground. I was surprised when some of the ladies, nice women I knew from church, were not fazed at all by the holes. Apparently, this style of toilet is not uncommon outside the U.S. When it was my turn to use the facilities, I laughed out loud when I realized that there was no toilet paper. There was, however, a conveniently placed hose. Because you wouldn’t want to leave a lady without options, would you?
An interesting thing about being in Israel and Jordan was that there were a lot of bedouins there. There have been bedouins in the Middle East for thousands of years and for the most part they continue their transient existence regardless of which wars make or destroy the countries they live in.
It’s a lifestyle I’ll never understand. The girls are considered marriage material as young as 13 and once married their life consists of running the camp and raising the children. The men shepherd their flocks and when resources run out in one area they move on.
In learning about the bedouins, I realized that the Middle East is a place I’m not sure many people can understand. Everything is different there, even the very basis of logic is different. When we were driving through a little town in Jordan (Madaba, if you’re curious) we saw a fountain that contained the well-known star and crescent symbol of Islam. In place of the star, however, was a globe and the message chilled me a bit.
In fact, in Jordan, your religion must be listed on your identification and Muslims are forbidden by the government to convert to other religions. This kind of thing would never stand in the West but that’s just how they roll over there.
While we were driving, we noticed some smoke on the horizon. When we drove by we realized it was a stack of tires on fire. We snapped a picture of it and I included it because it reminds me of the scary smoke monster on Lost.
I have to say, though, that overall the service in the hotels and restaurants was a lot better in Jordan than in Israel. In Israel, they have a very European take-you-or-leave-you kind of mentality and you’re not likely to get a smile from most people.
In Jordan, however, there were tons of smiles and a lot of terrible pick-up lines. One of the women in our group was offered 50 camels for her hand in marriage! She, being the savvy negotiator she is, asked if they were good camels or stuffed camels and the guy laughed and walked away. It is, after all, important not to settle.