Jordan for Lebanese is some kind of cousin. A dear one, as we share a lot in culture. The relationship got stronger since Lebanon had problems with its neighbors.
Israel in the south is the worst enemy, and Syria on the eastern and northern border, before being itself in war, was occupying our country and in war with part of the Lebanese community.
So Jordan was and still is the closest Arab safe destination for any Lebanese who wants to have a short getaway. In normal situation, it is a one hour direct flight from Beirut to Amman, but now it takes around one hour and forty minutes, as they have to divert in a way not to fly over Syria. Before the Syrian war started, we were able to drive from Beirut to Amman in four hours, short drive, as sometimes it takes me longer to get to my hometown in Lebanon.
Our trip was organized by the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB), directed by Mr Khaled Kilani who did a great job planning, organizing and accomplishing this whole wonderful trip.
Day 1: The good hospitality started at the airport where we were received with big smiles and joyfully greeted in the new Amman airport that was inaugurated just few months ago. Amman in the late afternoon was sunny, calm, clean with few posters of the king and the pope Francis the first spread here and there, announcing the prominent arrival of the head of the Catholic Church. The guide, Zawkan, told us that the work on the new airport highway has been finished earlier than predicted to receive the pope.
A tour in the bus showed us the beauty of the city of the seven mounts. We drove through the famous roundabouts.The city shows lot of organization and calm that reminds of Europe. A traffic jam made it easier and nicer for us to have a walk to get to the restaurant. Sufra is an old house transformed to a very cosy and welcoming place. Old furniture and style, with great food. Even the restrooms were very clean and followed the same old decoration style.
Day 2: visit of the pope, details in a previous article.
Afternoon we drove to the Dead Sea, the road was so beautiful and unique: we started going downhill under the sea level. The views were amazing, and the temperature were increasing. This trip was one of the many unforgettable moments. The stay was in the beautiful Movenpick resort, where we had to walk under the stars to get to our rooms spread all over the big lot. I would like to note that during this week we are “forced” to exercise all the time, due to walks we took to all the places we visited and even in the hotels we stayed in. After the very rich buffet dinner in the hotel, we had a group night walk in the movenpick “village”, enjoying the sight of the sea and the West Bank, and also the music coming from the restaurants. A look above showed a beautiful sparkling sky with shiny stars that look like light spots. I tried not to miss looking at the beautiful “Jordan” stars every single night of my visit.
Day 3: morning buffet at the Movenpick. By this time, I realized that I have to be careful about the diet! The tasty food is so appealing and Jordans are generous.
I tried to eat healthy breakfast but decided that decreasing the amount of food will start in the next meal. Which was easy task, because the lunch was not as great as the previous meals. Meanwhile in the morning, we visited the baptism river, where Saint John baptized Jesus around 2000 years ago. Although it was not a pilgrimage, for me this part of the visit was sacred. While walking through the olive trees to get to the river, I imagined all the time Jesus and his disciples walking on this land, under the heat that we couldn’t bare more than one hour. I suddenly felt that I secretly switched to the spiritual mode. Near the river was a beautiful golden Orthodox Church that I visited, and a man asked me to visit the relics of some unknown saints that were displayed in a glass box near the altar: a skull and some bones.
The river is the border between Jordan and Israel: amazing three or four meters that separates two countries. This was the closer I ever could get to the holy land, to the land were my leader Jesus was born, raised and were he was crucified and risen.
I touched the water, and took photos. We watched a young man baptizing his friend in the river, and they were taking it so seriously and with lot of joy. From where we stood, we were able to clearly hear and see the people on the other side of the river. But nothing was able to distract me of the he idea why I cannot cross this border? It saddened me. Who are those people from both sides to be able to take such decisions for us? Why do we accept? Finally I just closed my eyes for one second and asked Jesus himself to take care of this, and if possible, let me visit the Holy Land before I die.
Afternoon trip was toward Ma’in valley and hot springs. It was a novelty for me, a place I didn’t visit before. I had heard a lot of it and was afraid to be disappointed.
Again, positive surprise, and another heavenly palace in Jordan. Not the last and not the least of Jordan. The six senses resorts is accommodated in a way that fits the ambiance of the place. Wooden furniture and decoration that makes you feel like Tarzan in the jungle. Relaxing afternoon at the pool, followed by a nice dinner with the view on the falls. The evening at the terrace of the hotel was fun, between the jokes of our group and the religious songs of another group.