The highlight of the visit to Jerash was yet to come; we returned to the hippodrome in time for the "Roman Army Chariot Experience". A small army marched into the arena and demonstrated the costumes, weaponry and formations of the Roman cavalry; efficient and effective in their means of attack and defense
. Next came the Gladiators and we were treated to mock battles with the audience voting to determine the fate (i.e. life or death) of the defeated gladiator. It came as no surprise that the first two losers were allowed to live, the surprise came at the end of the third battle when the death vote was given. A sword was drawn across the losers neck and blood spurted everywhere as the gladiator collapsed to the ground. Alex was quite stunned and it was a while before he plucked the courage to ask in a rather nervous voice “that was fake blood, right?”. The grand finale of the “Roman Army Chariot Experience” was the chariot racing; three wooden chariots each pulled by two horses racing through the sand around the hippodrome. There didn't seem to be a winner as such, but an impressive sight none-the-less.
After our visits to the Dead Sea and Mount Nebo, the race was on to get back to the hotel in time for England to play Germany in the World Cup. We made it with seconds to spare and settled in for what we’d hoped would be a good game. England started brightly enough and looked much more promising than they had in the group stage. Unfortunately though, it was Germany who made the first breakthrough and followed up with a second goal in rather quick succession. Though visibly shaken, England got back into the game with a goal from Matthew Upson (a saving grace for the man whose error had cost England the first goal)
. It could’ve all been level by half-time if only FIFA had taken the World Cup into the 21st century by allowing video technology. As it was, Frank Lampard’s shot hit the crossbar and bounced down almost two feet inside of the goal bounced back up off the crossbar and into the keepers arms and unfortunately neither the referee nor referee’s assistant could see that it had crossed the line and the goal was disallowed. Things got worse for England in the second half and they eventually slumped to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of their greatest soccer foes.
As you can imagine Sarah was distraught at the result and angered by the performance. Yes, the disallowed goal made a huge difference, but after the fourth goal England gave up. Where was the grit and spirit that defines English football? The only question that remains is whether the England hat will make it beyond Jordan or will it be crushed and abandoned in the Holy Land?
And all this on a Sunday …
As mentioned last time, we started our day in the Roman city of Jerash. Unlike previous Roman cities that we have visited, these ruins have remained largely untouched (just a small amount of renovation) and the city was vast. A couple of hours were spent exploring the city from end to end; we walked the roads, explored Artemis temple, visited the theatres and tried to imagine what life may have been like. The Romans ran a pretty awe-inspiring empire, and it's incredible to see the origins of so many aspects of life that we take for granted today. Jerash, in particular, was previously unknown to us yet has to be one of the more extensive and complete sites around. All great value for just a few Jordanian Dinars entry fee.