|Friday 25th May - Jordan - Madaba
Today we visited two places Bethany and the Dead Sea.
Bethany is the place where Elijah was taken up to heaven in a chariot and also where Jesus was baptised. The emphasis at the site was on Jesus baptism. The course and size of the river Jordan has changed dramatically since Jesus day and now of-course the Jordan river is right on the border with the Palestinian West Bank so theres a political fragility about the area, but it was still very interesting to see. We were in a small group of tourists which included a few children of much the same age as our own. We enjoyed the company of a Christian family (Rick, Ann, Matthew and Steven) who live in Jordan it was interesting to talk to them and hear more about their life here.
Next stop, the Dead Sea, 370m below sea level. It was very hot, about 37 deg C. We went to the Amman Beach tourist resort which allows you access to the beach and the use of a couple of big swimming pools. Our dip in the sea was very brief, mainly because the water is stingy on sensitive skin and, although Keziah was determined to go in, she was soon crying because she was sore. The floating sensation is very strange and the water leaves your skin feeling oily. We spent most of our time at the swimming pools which was very refreshing on such a hot day.
I have to mention the fully veiled women we saw sitting in the shade, or wading in the water fully clothed while their husbands played in the water in swimming trunks. Of all the women at the pool, I think I saw one other in a bikini and maybe two others in swimsuits. I know little about Islam and even less about the culture of this area but to me it just screamed of injustice. To sit, shrouded in black with only your eyes visible in 37 deg heat or even, as some of the less conservative women did, to attempt to play with your children in a swimming pool while dressed in your jeans, long-sleeve top and head scarf seems just ridiculous to me. It made me appreciate the simple pleasure of swimming freely with my kids in comfort.
We drove over the Mount Nebo road (where Moses was shown the Promised Land) to Madaba. In Madaba we booked into an excellent guest house where we plan to spend a couple of nights Lulus Pension. We then had a wonderful meal out at a local restaurant - Herat Jdoudna. Thumbs up for Madaba so far.