Day 10 was a whirlwind journey with a taste of Amman, then atop the mountain on which Moses died, and ended in Petra, under the stars.
Amman was the ancient city of Philadelphia, and bares signs of influence of Mesopotamian, Persian, Greek, and Roman culture.
The city has a building code: all buildings must be built with white limestone.
As one stands atop it’s citadel which is in the center of the city, we were surrounded by hills covered in multistory white limestone houses and structures.
On top of the citadel were ruins to be explored, as well as a museum which holds the oldest known statue made by man.
One was quite off his head and the other looked rather alarmed.
I got a little excited with the history- I’d never heard of the Nabataeans before- and nerded out on the guide’s knowledge of his country’s past.
After the sites, tastes, and sounds of Amman, we journeyed to Mt. Nebo, the mountain in which Moses died. From atop the dry rocky mount, you can see the Dead Sea and the Promised Land.
This was probably one of my favorite spots the Middle East Trip.
I’ve been teaching ancient history for almost 10 years, integrating the Chosen People and Holy Scripture in it. The more I’ve studied Moses and read sacred scripture, the more I’ve seen that he was an extremely real person, who ended up becoming one of the most meek and holy persons of all time, but not without some real struggles.
Mount Nebo was to me a place that was a result of Moses his struggle with himself versus trusting the will of God.
In fact, he was so holy and so memorable to the Jews, that when Jesus Christ came here on earth, he was compared to Moses.
So, if you like very peaceful spots, and you like to follow the path of the chosen people, not Nebo is a must!
From there we traveled and stopped at two other places to see some really old but incredible mosaics. It’s amazing to see how much art was so common back then, and how the best of it was found in Catholic Churches.
What has always made me marvel, is that once the Catholic Faith in the Middle East was suffocated by persecution and indifference, these beautiful buildings were left to crumble. Now it’s only thanks to tourism and lovers of beauty that these works of art are preserved.
The road trip lasted a few more hours.
By evening, we had arrived in Petra.
After sunset, when all was dark, we descended into the Siq.
It is a long canyon that opened up into a clearing. And in that clearing is the façade of a tomb that resembles a magnificent temple. This iconic building is know as the Treasury.
In order to go through this canyon, we walked along a candlelit path. The rock walls, winding and jutting out, rose black and high on both sides of us, and conversation echoed all around us. Above the darkness, bright crystal stars and a moon shone down upon us.
After about half an hour of walking, music came to our ears.
Hushed talking was heard. And then slowly the façade of the Treasury came into view, lit up by the a glowing pool of hundreds of small candles.
This temple, is known as the treasury, but it is actually a grand tomb.
The audience numbered about as many people as there were candles. They were spread out throughout the clearing, and everyone watched in hushed tones as a man performed his instrument. Locals handed out a little cups of warm tea.
Overwhelmed at the excitement of being there and what I was seeing, I quickly took out my sketchbook and as I listened, I sketched the pictures you see painted here. When I got home to Kansas, I spent a few evenings making the scenes come alive again.
The evening ended with a quiet, dark walk back to our bus, and from there we hit the hay. The next day would be devoted to exploring the rose red city of Petra.
Thank you so much for reading! If you are a faithful subscriber and reader, thank you so much for waiting for this late post. It turns out that when someone near and dear to you dies, it’s a good thing to just take a break and come back when things have settled down.
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