I never sleep well the first night away from home, and last night was no exception. I woke bleary eyed only to find we had no light in the bathroom.
Both kids were still asleep so I got on with my shower and then had to wake them so we’d be on time for breakfast. Breakfast was sparse; all anyone would eat was toast and plastic cheese although DS did peel an egg, purely for something to do, it would seem.
We had to be packed and downstairs for a tour briefing at 8:30, so we’d be ready to leave at 9, so that was a bit of a rush. We made it though and weren’t the last family to arrive.
There were lots of introductions and the kids immediately started to gel, although not always the way we thought they would. DD1 took up with a 7 year old that we had thought would fit well between DD2 and 3, who instead made friends with the 9 year old Year 5 girl who we thought DD1 might make friends with! DS was just adopted by everyone.
The briefing covered things like tipping, how to behave in various places, our itinerary and we were informed that we would have a member of the tourism police travelling with us around Jordan. Apparently this is common practice when a group of tourists are travelling in an organised tour, but there were concerns about this being linked to the situation in Syria.
Our briefing was punctuated by phonecalls to our team leading from the bus driver, first needing instructions and secondly, saying he couldn’t get any closer to the hotel. So we dragged out bags up the road to the bus; those new wheeled bags were a good investment.
There are only 17 of us on the tour ( 7 adults and 10 kids), and we have a big 40 seater bus to ourselves, so we could spread out a bit. Basically, we’ve let the kids have the back and we adults spread out at the front. There was a lot of shrieking and giggling going on at the back, but a lot of it was easily ignored as it wasn’t in our faces.
Our first stop today was the river Jacob. We walked down from the road, and our guide told us the story of Jacob wrestling with the Angel. A lot of the stuff we are going to see is related to history and biblical stories; neither of these are my best subjects.
Then back into the lovely air conditioned coach and on to Jerash. It was hot today, late 20’s with clear skies and a nice little breeze. It seems the next few days will be a little cooler, thank goodness!
Ancient Jerash is the a huge site. This old Roman city was at its peak around the 2nd Century, then dwindled in popularity and wealth over the centuries, until around the 13th Century it is mentioned only as a ruin. Then it got buried in sand and was forgotten about until it was discovered in 1878, and consequently excavated.
We had a fabulous but rather hot, tiring day.
We watched demonstrations by gladiators and chariot drivers.
We explored ancient nooks and crannies, some were over 2000 years old. Yes, that is the class bear we have with us!
We marvelled at some very unstable looking structures and really hoped that there would be no earth tremors while we walked underneath them.
And we climbed the steps into the ruins of the Temple of Diana.
You can see we had the place practically to ourselves. Tourist numbers have dropped dramatically because of the trouble in neighbouring Syria. There were still quite a few tourists but most of them were school children from Jordan.
These kids just mobbed us, wanting photos taken and practicing their limited English on us : ‘Hello, what’s your name…’ That lasted until they saw DD3 and DS. Then they went a bit paparazzi, pinching their cheeks and talking to them and taking photos of them on their phones, until we just had to get our guide to tell them no!
Finally we visited the amazing theatre with its wonderful acoustics, then it was time for a cold drink and back to the bus.
It took a couple of hours to get to our next stop, Madaba. DS dropped off and had a snooze and had to be woken up when we got to the hotel, which seems lovely. It has an (unheated) pool which the girls fell into with cries of joy, then got out of again almost just as quickly before they turned blue.
Meanwhile, I got into difficulties in the bathroom, when I got a little too curious and pressed a strange lever on the toilet. In Jordan, you don’t throw your toilet paper into the loo, but put it in the provided rubbish bin, and the lever proved to be designed to clean peoples nether regions after a visit to the toilet. Unfortunately the lever jammed, and I got covered in toilet water while wrestling with it, trying to turn it off!
To cap off a lovely day, we walked across town to a wonderful traditional restaurant where we ate a variety of Arab dishes in a pretty little courtyard, dotted with trees.
We tottered home, full, tired but happy and got a nasty reminder about how not to cross roads in Jordan. We couldn’t find a pedestrian crossing, so are not sure of the right way, but it was okay, the van stopped with inches to spare.
Another busy day tomorrow, we are heading to Petra for a couple of nights and I’m so looking forward to catching a glimpse of rose-red Petra at last.