Jarash, Um Qais and the Ajloun

After my flight overnight from Bangkok, I barely got any sleep from the excitement of how nice business class was (although still no lie flat), but the food and service was spot on. To top it off, there were only 6 of us for 24 seats, so it was really private and nice. Arriving in Amman was nice as walking out through the jetways, I got my first glimpse of Arabic advertisements, different dress, and really felt the sense of the grandeur entrance to Jordan as the airport provides. It was a very modern and beautiful building. I headed for the line to get some cash from the ATM, and was just second in line to buy my visa into the kingdom.

I came out of immigration and customs and looked for my name to be on a sign. My heart sank a little when I didn’t see a sign, and I felt like an orphan scanning all the onlookers trying to see was someone there to take me home. Alas, I walked out to see how much a taxi would be, and decided to give a few more minutes before I left. Luckily, in came a shorter heavier set man and he was rushing in with a sign, and I got a glimpse of ‘JAMIN’, so I went over and saw his sign to feel a sense of relief knowing someone was there to get me!

After being welcomed into Jordan, we watched an incredible sunrise as we drove through the streets leading from the airport to downtown. The landscape was beautiful as well as all the buildings perched on the hills like stacked sugarcubes, white from limestone, and covering the hillsides. We made our way to downtown, and I was able to get checked into the hostel.

A man came hobbling down the stairs with glasses that made his eyes look like an owl, except one was either damaged or lazy. He walked with a hunch, and as he led me up the stairs to ‘Tower Hotel’, I couldn’t help but think of him as poor Quasimodo. Only later would I find out that he had lived in Atlanta for 8 years before.

As I set my stuff down, Haz let me put myself in a share room downstairs and to take a little rest before a tour was heading out at 8am. He said since it was low season the tours aren’t going as often, and it would be good to join. Since it was a tour I had planned to take, I figured I should push on to get a head start on seeing the sights. I was pleased that I did, as the day went fantastically.

As we headed for Jarash in northern Jordan, we passed the Baqaa Refugee camp, the first camp that was set up in the 40’s for all the Palestinians. Now of course it’s a proper city/town. Again, the scenery was stunning and we continued our way to the north to Um Qais also known as Gadara, mentioned in the bible dating back to the 7th centure BC. This city was destroyed by earthquakes, but the colonnaded street, mausoleum, commercial center and the church all have their structures standing as ruins. The views here looked out over the mountains where the valley below could be seen.

After Um Qais, we went to Ajloun Castle which was built in 1184 and stood at the top of a hill looking down to the valley below. Inside there were great large rooms that had small windows that let light peek inside. After viewing from the top lookout, we headed back down to our van and continued our way to get some lunch.

We pulled over at a corner that had a couple of food stalls which looked like holes in the wall, with prices to match. We got a various things, but I had some falafel, beef/lamb shawerma with fries. All for $2JD. It was nice and cheap, and amazingly delicious!

After eating, we finally arrived to Jaresh where the city is really impressive with all the ruins. Column lined streets, huge temples, everything reminds me of what Greece would look like with all the Roman architecture, arches, columns, and statues. There were great views, and at this point, I was running on empty, so I was glad to have a nice ride back to the hostel.

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