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Friday 12 September 2014

[Thursday 11 September 2014]

Region Hotel, Amman
Edom Hotel, Petra
DAY 4: Amman & Petra B/L/D
This morning, head to the city of Madaba, famous for the 6th century mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land as well as its spectacular Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics. Then travel on to the site of Mount Nebo to see the city mentioned in the Bible as the place where Moses was granted a view of the ‘promised land’ that he would never enter. From here you will travel south to Al Karak, a Crusaders Castle built on a triangular plateau dating back to the 12th Century, before continuing to Petra for an overnight stay.



Day 255 Job 39-40; Romans 7
…The plan had been to get up ca.7am, but Janet somehow didn’t set the alarm on the clock. So the getting-up process started ca.7.30am, and didn’t leave time for breakfast. We went down just before 9 o’clock, checked out, paying for the one bottle of water we took on the first evening from the “minibar”, and boarded the “dolmuş”.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 08:57:12
On the coach, about to leave the Al-Fanar Palace Hotel

We arrived in Madaba ca.40 minutes later, walking from the tourist centre car-park to the Greek Orthodox church of St. George.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 09:47:38
Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, Madaba

Before we went in to see the mosaic map of the Holy Land, Ashraf led us into a kind of briefing room and spoke about the place to us and some others who were gathered there.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 09:50:08
Ashraf points out features of the Madaba Mosaic Map which we are about to go and see.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 09:59:32
ΑΓΙΟΣ ✣ ΓΕΩΡΓΙΟΣ
(Saint George)
GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH
ΜΗΔΑΒΑ
(Mēdaba)


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:00:44
Mosaic Map


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:01:04
Mosaic Map


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:01:18
Mosaic Map


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:02:00
Mosaic Map


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:02:28
Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, Madaba


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:03:12
Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, Madaba

It’s a shame the gallery upstairs wasn’t open for visitors, because it would have given a good single view of the mosaic; as it was, one could only see it at a slant and not all in one view.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:04:46
Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, Madaba


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:05:42
Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, Madaba


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:06:38
Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, Madaba — “Baptism”


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:07:26
Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, Madaba — “Transfiguration”


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:08:54
Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, Madaba

I thought I’d had a good look around, till Janet asked if I’d been downstairs. So she went back there with me to the crypt.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:10:54
Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, Madaba


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:11:40
Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, Madaba


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:12:12
Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, Madaba


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:12:56
Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, Madaba


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:12:56 (enhanced duplicate)
Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, Madaba

Ashraf came looking for us because the others had already gathered. I bumped my head on the low marble lintel of the door of the crypt as I was leaving. Despite our being last out, I asked if it was OK to go to the adjacent shop to buy a copy of the mosaic.


Friday 12 September 2014
Mosaic map

Going back from there to the “dolmuş” we stopped at a shop selling all sorts of confections within and freshly squeezed pomegranate and orange juices without. We had some of the pomegranate, very sweet with a bitter undertone, then went in the shop and bought one or two items, including a packet of the sesame-seeded biscuits they’d been handing out.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:22:12
Freshly squeezed pomegranate juice

It was a fairly short drive from Madaba to Mount Nebo.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 10:57:46
Mount Nebo


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:01:10
Mount Nebo
PAPAE IOANNI PAULO DICATUM XX MARTII MM
Dedicated to Pope John Paul II, 20 March 2000
UNUS DEUS
PATER OMNIUM
SUPER OMNES
One God
Father of all
Above all


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:07:16
Mount Nebo


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:09:50
Mount Nebo


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:39:00
Mount Nebo
ὁ θεὸς
ἀγάπη
ἐστίν
God is love


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:09:16
Mount Nebo

We entered a goats’ hair tent covering some Byzantine floor mosaics, but when we came to the church building which covered similar, earlier-discovered mosaics we found it closed to visitors because restoration works were being undertaken.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:10:36
Tent covering floor mosaics


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:11:12
Floor mosaics


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:11:12 (straightened-up detail)
ΙΩΑΝΝΗΣ ΑΜΜ.
John ??[of] Amm[on]??


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:11:54
Floor mosaics


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:11:54 (straightened-up detail)


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:12:50
Floor mosaics


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:12:50 (straightened-up detail)


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:13:08
Floor mosaics


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:13:08 (straightened-up detail)

Ashraf spoke about the significance of the fish in Christian art. (I’d seen various birds and and a bull, fruit trees and bunches of grapes, but no fish.) He said that the letters of the word in Latin were cryptically the initial letters of a statement about Jesus. Whether his omission of “Son of God” was deliberate or accidental, I don’t know. I piped up that the word was Greek not Latin. (ΙΧΘΥΣ: Ιεσουσ Jesus Χριστοσ Christ Θεου God’s Υιοσ Son Σοτερ Saviour.) Shortly afterwards I expressed to him privately the hope that I hadn’t been rude, cutting across him like that. He assured me that on the contrary, he welcomed such information.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:17:30
Mount Nebo


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:17:30 (detail)
Mount Nebo
OLIVAM HANC
SYMBOLUM PACIS RESTITUTAE
PAPA JOHANNES PAULUS II
PEREGRINUS
IN HOC SACRO MONTE
PLANTAVIT
IE XX MARTII MM
This olive tree, a symbol of peace restored, Pope John Paul II, a pilgrim, planted on this sacred mountain on 20 March 2000.

Unfortunately the haze prevented us from seeing much of the “Promised Land”. The Dead Sea could be seen, and the Jordan valley, but not much beyond.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:23:16
Views from Mount Nebo


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:23:22
Views from Mount Nebo


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:23:30
Views from Mount Nebo


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:23:38
Views from Mount Nebo


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:23:46
Views from Mount Nebo


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:23:52
Views from Mount Nebo

When we came to the serpent sculpture, Ashraf spoke of the contest between Moses and the Egyptian magicians, where Moses’ staff when thrown down became a serpent; the magicians’ staffs also became serpents, but Moses’ serpent swallowed theirs. He missed (for understandable reasons, I thought) the more obvious connection between the sculpture and the bronze serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:4–9):

4From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. 5And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” 6Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.

“Understandable reasons” — i.e. the connection between this and Jesus as more than a prophet: as the source of eternal life (John 3:14–15):

14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:24:02
Mount Nebo
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:14, 15 (New King James Version)

After that we visited a mosaic workshop, where mosaics are manufactured by people with disabilities with the support of the Queen Noor Foundation. On entering, we saw a small group of men at work. One of them, in a wheelchair, showed us how the mosaics are assembled face-down on a drawn plan, i.e. are a mirror-image of the finished product, before he took us next door to see the finished products in the large showroom.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:51:28
Mosaic workshop


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:53:54
Mosaic workshop


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:54:06
Mosaic workshop


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:54:46
Mosaic workshop


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:56:46
Mosaic workshop


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:57:20
In the showroom


Friday 12 September 2014 — 11:58:20
In the showroom

We bought a small mosaic in a wooden frame for 25 dinars. Then we got back into the “dolmuş” and were taken to a restaurant for lunch. They had available a bottled beer, Carak Ale, “blonde ale” according to its own description, very much a “British”-style beer by my taste, brewed in a micro-brewery, I assume in or near Karak Castle, which we were about to visit. Janet wandered out to find somewhere that sold Pepsi Diet, etc. The staff at the restaurant didn’t make passes at Jacqueline, so I suggested to her that they were gay.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 12:39:46
Lunch: Jordanian ale


Friday 12 September 2014 — 13:04:30
Lunch

Back in the “dolmuş”, we headed south, through desert much of the way, to Al-Karak.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 14:40:40
Desert road to Al Karak


Friday 12 September 2014 — 14:41:34
Desert road to Al Karak

There was much litter in the fields on the way and in the streets of Al-Karak when we got there. There really ought to be a “Keep Jordan tidy” campaign, as there has been a “Keep Britain Tidy” one here since 1955.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:04:10
Karak Castle comes into view above.

When Ashraf told us other names throughout history for Karak he said one that sounded like “Kir Hareseth”. So I clarified with him whether it was the Biblical Kir Hareseth, and he said it was.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:11:36
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:13:06
Entering Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:13:32
Entering Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:14:26
Karak Castle

The “battery low” indicator kept coming on; indeed one or two attempts to photograph failed, but each time I was able to get the shot by switching off and on again.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:15:36
Views from Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:16:04
Views from Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:17:06
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:17:48
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:18:06
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:18:34
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:21:12
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:22:18
Karak Castle: stone with the remains of a bas-relief on it


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:22:52
Karak Castle: nearby drawing of the remains of the bas-relief


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:23:14
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:25:04
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:26:12
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:27:34
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:28:32
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:31:46
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:31:40
Views from Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:31:54
Views from Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:31:22
Views from Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:32:02
Views from Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:34:18
Views from Karak Castle: caves


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:32:24
Views from Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:32:58
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:37:56
Karak Castle

Ashraf led us down steps and into an almost labyrinthine series of corridors with rooms off — very dark rooms, some of them, which would have been an advantage to people fighting off attackers who had just breached the outer defences.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:38:10
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:39:02
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:40:16
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:40:16 (detail)
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:40:30
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:40:46
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:42:52
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:44:08
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:44:34
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:47:04
Karak Castle


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:48:08
Karak Castle

We emerged, surprisingly, at a point not far from where we’d entered the castle complex.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 15:49:02
Karak Castle

We continued southwards, partly via the somewhat winding “King’s Way” as the English part of the bilingual sign said — more commonly known as the “King’s Highway” — partly on straighter, more recent roads.
 [This paragraph was written on 3 November 2014.] To while away the hours, Ashraf played a movie and some music. It was a relief that it was “middle-of-the-road” rock/pop music: Elton John, I think. A scribbled note says, “Johnny English 2nd movie” and “Skyfall”. It was perhaps the latter movie that was played today: Skyfall, the twenty-third James Bond film produced by Eon Productions and released in 2012. Because of the tiny screen and much of the action taking place in the dark, I couldn’t really tell what was going on, and I couldn’t hear the dialogue clearly either. It was difficult to nod off to sleep, though, in the single seat to the right of the aisle that I occupied on all the trips.
 We stopped for a refreshment- and loo-break at a souvenir shop, selling among other things mosaics. I noticed that these were almost all Christian art. Just as in Amman the hotel was a different one from that in the Mercury Direct information, so in Petra, or Wadi Musa as the town was called: it was the “Seven Wonders Hotel”.



Friday 12 September 2014 — 18:42:02
Seven Wonders Hotel, Wadi Musa

As we waited in the lobby for our keys to be issued and handed out, the strap of my rucksack broke and it crashed heavily on the floor. Our room was a large one with three beds in it.


Friday 12 September 2014 — 18:59:26
Views from our room at the Seven Wonders Hotel, Wadi Musa


Friday 12 September 2014 — 19:00:10
Views from our room at the Seven Wonders Hotel, Wadi Musa


Friday 12 September 2014 — 19:00:34
Views from our room at the Seven Wonders Hotel, Wadi Musa


Friday 12 September 2014 — 19:01:22
Our room at the Seven Wonders Hotel, Wadi Musa

The computers seemed to be unharmed after their accident, though back home I scribbled the wrote, “[The] computer fan has made a whirring sound since my bag containing it fell on the floor.” [This seems to have subsided; e.g. I can’t hear it now (6 November 2014).] Transferred today’s 94 photos off my camera (19:14–19:16). We went down for dinner ca.7.30pm. (8.00pm had been proposed, but Janet objected.) All our party sat at the same table, and it was a set dinner. One of the two waiters — he looked like a Russian — was trying to chat up Jacqueline. “The Russian-looking guy isn’t gay, then,” I commented. She thought actually that the desk clerk had nice eyes. Went through the photos using Windows Photo Viewer and rotated 21 that needed it (21:13–21:21). Janet did some unpacking and had a shower. The shower cubicle here, as opposed to the bathtub-with-clingy-curtain at the other hotel, was welcome; but the option of overhead shower or shower-head attached to a flexible tube was immediately restricted to overhead only when the shower-head of the other sprang apart as soon as water-pressure reached it. Janet wrote: “It’s now 10.40pm so I’ll hit the sack.” I suppose that I did the same. I occupied the middle bed and Janet the one near the window. But because of the heat we put on the air-conditioning; the unit was above Janet’s head, and she found it too noisy. Some time during the night she moved to the bed on the other side of me, but still couldn’t sleep for the noise. I found in fact that it had the reverse effect: a “white”-ish noise which masked others that might have been disturbing.

[Saturday 13 September 2014]



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