Trip Start Oct 20, 2008
Trip End Jan 31, 2009

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Flag of Jordan  ,
Monday, November 17, 2008

Diana dropped me off at Madaba. First, wondered around the city, getting lost in the process. It feels like a larger version of the Kemerburgaz suburb of Istanbul. I believe this is an average Jordanian city with respect to size and level of development. Still impressive. The average Turkish city would be more developed, but not the average Syrian one.

Went to the Visitor's Center. Most touristic attractions in Madaba have been funded by USAID. By saying this my goal is not to disregard the success of the Department of Tourism and Antiquities. Finding the funds is a major task in itself. The lady who works at the Center means well, but her level of English is very poor. Didn't know what "Christian" meant, although most tourists visit Madaba for its Christian past. When she finally understood what I meant, she told me that there were 7 Christians in Madaba! I wonder what she understood...

The Archeological Park didn't impress me at all. The collection is small. In addition, I have seen far more impressive and older mosaics in Antakya and Gaziantep. Therefore, unless there is something extremely special, no more ruins or mosaics for me.

Thinking that it was St. George's, went into a Catholic church where Christian kids were being schooled. St. George's has a mosaic map of the holy places, on its floor. This 6th Century map is quite incomplete. The priest told me that there were 20,000 Christians and 60,000 Muslims living in Madaba. He added that 6% of Jordan was Christian. After St. George's, went into the Protestant church right next door. For some dumb reason, I expect non-Muslims to look different from Muslims. Hence, I was surprised to see that the Christian guard looked just like the average Arab! It's time to wake up. The guard told me that they have 75 members.

Had a cordon-bleu sandwich and a mixed fruit juice at Ayole Coffeshop. Good stuff. 4.5 dinars.

Jordanians treat tourisits in a great way. Nobody jumps on you; very few try to rip you off, and everybody wants to help you. Once again, lights years away from Syria.

After lunch, went to the Madaba Museum. The only interesting about it was that it was established in a few old Madaba houses.

The mosics in the Apostles Church were quite impressive. This large Christian depiction was almost perfectly preserved. In addition, the church has been restored in such a way that is true to its original form.

Took a cab to Mount Nebo and got ripped off. Should have paid 1 JD instead of 3. Mount Nebo is mentioned in both the Old and the New Testaments. It's where Moses set eyes on the promised lands and passed away at age 120. The museum was uninteresting and the Moses Memorial Church was being renovated. However, the views of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Jericho were wonderful despite the haze. What excited me the most was the presence of an active Fransiscan monestary here. I saw a German monk who was collecting the garbage around the site and muttering to himself at the same time. When I started walking towards the main gate at 4.50pm, I realized that I had been locked inside. A boy who worked at the renovation project showed me a way around it.

With Diana, went to Haret J'doudna in Madaba for some Arak. It is sweeter than the Turkish Raki and therefore more like the Greek Ouzo.

Jordanian kiss in a peculiar way: one cheek first and then 2 consecutive kisses on the opposite cheek.
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