Day 200 - Mosaics, Moses, and Mud

Trip Start Sep 09, 2008
Trip End Sep 15, 2009

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy 200th day on the road...and to think we have met people that have been travelling for years or more already.
and how did we celebrate it?
Well we spent our day with a hotel-arranged minibus tour of Madaba, Mt. Nebo, and the Dead Sea.
First stop: Madaba.
A 19th century Greek Orthodox church called St. Georges houses one of the most important mosaics: a map that details all major Biblical sites from Lebanon to Egypt.  The sites (which are in Greek) are clearly marked but unfortunately only 1/3 of the map remains in tact.  The historians date the construction of the map at 560 AD but it was not discovered until 1864.  What remains of the mosaic map is quite fragmented.  The church also houses new mosaics depicting the life of Christ.
Down the road from St. Georges is the Archaeological Park.  This park contains various mosaics from a Byzantine villa.  The highlight of this park is the mosaic of Aphrodite (Venus) spanking Eros (Cupid).  This is comedy at its finest - 6th century style.
Next stop:  Mt. Nebo.
Moses is said to have seen the Promised Land from the top of Mt. Nebo AND it is also believed that Moses died and was buried (somewhere) on Mt. Nebo.  In any case many visitors come a glimpse of the view of the East Bank of the Jordan Valley (The Promised Land) and see the mosaics from a 4th century AD from the Moses Memorial Church.
Today was a very hazy day, but as you can see from our expert in the field, Andrew, is pointing out where the Promised Land would be had the weather cooperated with us today.
Last Stop:  Dead Sea
So we capped off our day with a swim in the lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea.  The buoyancy was exactly as everyone said it would be - not much effort at all to float.  In fact the act of treading water was completely unnecessary.  You lean back and your legs are already way up in the air.
But the best part was the Dead Sea mud.  With almost no coaxing at all, we coated ourselves with the raw mud from the shoreline (which is clay like) and rubbed it all over ourselves.  Throughout our trip in Jordan and the Middle East, we have seen pharmacies with expensive Dead Sea mineral products that advertise healthy skin and brighter tones.  Well we were getting the real thing for free - maybe at the expense of the Muslim women that were laughing at us from the beach.  We hardly noticed their giggles because we knew that they were taking their mud home to use in the privacy of their baths.
After a swim in the Dead Sea and a cold freshwater shower, our skin did feel incredible and soft.  Even Andrew went back for a full facial.  The pictures really speak about the excellent time we were having.
Time to tour Amman!!  We have spent all this time seeing Jordan yet we have not explored Amman yet.  Full report to follow.
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