It took a long time, but I'll admit it: I was a little tired today. Not even that tired because of lack of sleep (I actually got to bed before 11:30!), but just tired of touring in general—it does get a little laborious after awhile. As a result, I will be brief: we visited another mosque, another archaeological dig site, another museum filled with really old stuff, etc... I was just restless. Nothing was just “wow, cool!” at the beginning of the day. But then we went to a temple dedicated to Hercules which was cool, as well as one of the most important sites in all Christiandom! That's right, the last two popes have come out and said it: they have found the site where Jesus was baptized! We visited Bethbara, “beyond Jordan.” I read some scriptures and touched the river Jordan. The drive home from there was short... and since this was our last major trip... everyone was talking about what they were going to do when they got *home*. Ahhhhhhhh!
Today what was, for me, the coolest place in the entire Jordan trip, and one of the best in my entire BYU-J experience: Jerash. Besides a few in Italy herself, it is the best preserved Roman city of all time! The sites were... breathtaking! Romans were incredible in their architectural and... combat... err... accomplishments. We even watched an entire gladiator show—complete with horse racing, hand to hand combat, and audience participation: one of our own was chosen to be a gladiator! After what (for one of the few times of the entire program—they really take excellent care of us) seemed like too long, we had lunch. It was totally worth it. It was pretty authentic Jordanian and very satisfying. Our next stop was a fireside of sorts at the branch house in Amman. The story of the church there is very interesting! That evening we had free time, but not a lot to see... so we decided to go bowling. We never ended up finding the place, so we just wandered around the city and talked about stuff. I realized, much to my disappointment, that a lot of people take my introspection into subjects of self-improvement to mean that I lack confidence. And all I could get out of them as far as a solution to that is just to “be” confident. It was a little frustrating. One thing I did like, though, is that we all agreed that being normal is overrated. Yes!! The rest of the night revolved around the ethicality of pirated movies and such. I wouldn't call myself an absolutist on that particular subject, but I do have a strong opinion—and it honestly bothers me when people find nothing wrong with it. In the end, it is a personal decision and one that I can honestly respect even if others disagree with me... I only wish people would care enough to look at what the Church has said on the subject—and not assume that, because they have “never heard” anything said about it, that that means it is ok.
Today we got up at 5am to go to one of the 7 New Wonders of the World as well as one of the 40 places you must visit before you die, PETRA! I was stoked about this visit, and it was way cool! Though, to be honest, I wouldn't rate it in the top 40 myself, but that is another story. We hiked through some gorgeous rock canyons, saw the famous “treasury” facade (so called because when it was first discovered it was hoped to have gold inside... it did not), hiked up to the monostary tomb, had lunch, went and saw the tombs of the kings, hiked up to an official “high place”--a paagan sacrifical rite area—and all in all just explored around. It wasn't that hot as we had an early start, but it was such a long day and the heat was progressively more intenst that it really was quite draining by the end. Especially because a lot of us ran out of water—I broke down and bought a 1.5 liter bottle for two whole dollars! There was a long bus ride back which I spent watching “The 5 People You Meet in Heaven” with Daniel on my laptop. Great show! We got home to our new Hotel in Amman, had dinner and explored the town. A lot of students bought cheap DVD's of... questionable origin... which inspires me to write a thesis on the subject, but I have not the time to do so now. So I will end, contented with my day and enjoying the amaaaaaaaaaazing pictures I got at a great tourist spot!
July 26, 2010
Today I entered the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan! Our first day was pretty low-key at first: we went to Mount Nebo, the place where Elijah and Moses were translated. It had a nice view and had a monument to Moses' brazen serpent. Next was Madaba, which has one of the most famous mosaics of all time: it was a map of Jerusaelm and the surrounding area. It was pretty accurate, too. The coolest thing, though, by far, was Shobak Castle, a stronghold built by Soladin in 1115 to cut the route off between Egypt and Syria. I hiked up with one group of friends and explored around a bit. I went into what seemed like a small room by myself just to check it out, but there was a stairway—so naturally I went down it. I had no idea how far it went! It just kept going and going and going...after about 10 minutes of going straight down to who knows where, I decided I shouldn't go any further alone and started back up. I didn't go more than a few dozen yards before I saw someone coming down. I was going to tell them that there was no end in sight and that we should probably turn back... but it turned out to be my teacher, Bro. Emmett, and he said that he wanted to see it through to the end if I would accompany him. I was aaaaaaall for it, so down we went. I still thought it was probably a dead end—probably to some crusader storage area or something, but Bro. Emmett said that a student last year found a tunnel that went straight through then entire castle and went out on the other side of the mountain... so we hoped this was that tunnel and kept going. It got to the point that Bro. Emmett was saying we should turn back when off in the distance I saw what I thought was light, so I said we should keep going. We did so and it turned out to lead to that exit on the other side! It was so cool! On our way home driving to our hotel, we visited the traditional site where Moses hit the rock and made water come out. At night, most people went to Turkish baths to get massages and cleaned off... at first, I wasn't interested, but then I decided that it might be a good cultural experience (and that we have our swimsuits on the entire time), so I conceded. We couldn't end up finding a place with open slots available, however, so instead we just walked the town and bought some local baked goods—mmmmm!
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