Languages: Arabic (official)
Palestinians have had a hard time since the creation of Israel but so have the Jordanians who lost Jerusalem and the west bank in 1967. One has to recognise the ability required of the diminutive King Hussein to maintain stability and remain in power during those difficult last 45 years. Just think of what happened in Lebanon during that time!
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From Cairo, I took the night bus to Nueba on the north shore of the gulf of Aqaba and a big ferry from there to Aqaba. As far as I could tell, I was the only western traveller amongst a thousand other passengers most of which were egyptian migrant workers going to Saudi Arabia. Ahmed and Waheed were part of a group going to Riyadh to work for a consulting firm. They both spoke English and served as translators for a dozen others who quizzed me on my family, private life, on agriculture in Canada, on the economy, on the role of women, etc... during the three hours it took to get to Aqaba. It was interesting for I quizzed them on the same subjects.
The Jordanian port of Aqaba in the distance. Further to the left is the border and Israeli port of Eilat.
In Aqaba I had a nice room at the Quasr al Nil hotel for only 2 Jordanian Dinars per night (2.90 US$).
This narrow passage called "Siq" along the dry bed of a mountain gorge leads into a secret valley where the Nabataeans built their capital in the 3rd century BC at the crossroads of trade routes from the Persian gulf and the Red Sea to Gaza on the Mediterranean.
The Nabataeans were an Arab people but their sculpture and architecture was strongly influenced by both the Greek and the Persians. The prosperous Nabataean kingdom extended from Damascus to Aqaba when it fell to the Romans in 106 BC. Here are the ruins of an amphitheatre that could seat 3000 spectators.
The fine carving on the facade of this temple is an indication of the affluence and sophistication developed by the Nabataeans in their secret city of Petra.
A street paved in the roman manner in ancient Petra.
It was cold and raining most of the time when I visited Amman, the capital of Jordan.
The beautifully preserved roman city of Jerash 50 km north of Amman is Jordan's second greatest tourist attraction after Petra. Here, you are looking north from the oval forum up the colonnaded street that is the main axis of Jerash.
The south theatre of Jerash, built in the 1st century AD not far from the oval forum, could hold 5000 spectators.
The imposing Temple of Artemis was dedicated to the patron goddess of Jerash.
You are now looking south down the colonnaded street towards the oval forum at the other end.
I could have travelled to Israel from here but I returned to Cairo by ferry and bus and kept Israel for the end of my trip because their stamp in my passport would have closed the doors of many African countries I wanted to visit.