We got into Jordan very very late (1:30am) and got a taxi into Amman city center where we had a reservation at the Jordan Tower Hotel. We got put with the youngest taxi driver of the lot who zoomed out of the airport, immediately lit a cigarette and started sucking on a bag. It was late and he was annoying me, but I tried to have a positive attitude. He didn't know where the hotel was and I tried to give him the address and phone number but he was content on driving around with his neck craned searching. But I'm the one who eventually found our hotel. He was very nice as we left to his credit. There was a strange noise coming from the pipes in the hotel which drove me mad all night. I got up several times to remedy the problem, which means I got up stomped around, listened to the walls, and turned the heater on and off. Nothing worked. Eventually I fell asleep. I woke up the next morning tired but so excited to get started but not having a clue what to do or where to go. We went down for breakfast, which came with the room, and had cucumbers, cheese, tomatoes, and bread. Simple, but very tasty. We discovered that an English lady ran the hotel. She helped us arrange a car with a rental company for the 6 days we would be spending in Jordan. While we waited for the car to come we walked across the street to the ruins of a Roman Amphitheater. We climbed to the top of the amphitheater and could see the whole downtown area. It looks pretty much like you would picture a middle eastern city. Cinder block construction dominated, with a brown backdrop.
When the rental car arrived we were driven to the edge of town where we were told it was easy to navigate from. The city center is kind of a maze for the novice. Jeff jumped in the drivers seat, put it into first and we were off. Only to miss our first exit. We got turned around and headed the right way just in time to miss another turn improperly signed which took us awhile to remedy. From then on out we would stop periodically and ask if we were headed the right way. Our destination was the dead sea. Everyone proved to be super helpful. Everyone and anyone was willing to help and wanted nothing in return. Our first stop was at the north of the dead sea near where the river Jordan empties into the dead sea. It is the baptismal site of Jesus. Archaeologists have been able to pin point the exact location from books in the new testament and other records. The area has changed drastically in the past 2000 years. The place we saw no longer had water flowing, but was a muddy hole. There were remnants of Byzantine era baptismal fonts built 300 years after Christ. They think they know the exact spot Christ walked into the water, but I don't know how. I expected the experience to be somber and reflective, but it is in an area only recently (the past 15 years) where tourists have been allowed because its on the Israeli border. ( we stood within 10 feet of the border) So strict tours are given on a tight time frame. It was a bit of a rush through the site, but I did enjoy it and appreciate it none-the-less.
We drove to the dead sea after leaving and arrived at the "Amman beach" just as it was beginning to get dark. We paid the exorbitant price, threw on suits, and got in. The air was a touch cold but the water was warm enough to glide right in. It was wonderful! The water felt heavier than normal water with all the minerals and salt in it. We floated easily, with little choice but to do so. It was advised not to get water in our eyes or mouth and one accidental taste told you why. It didn't taste just like salt, it was extremely bitter and weird tasting. There were salt crystal formations along the shore were I cut my foot in four places coming in and I could feel it burn. But I didn't care, it was great being there and we both enjoyed it more than we expected.
Because it was getting dark quickly we got out and jumped back in the car to drive to the town of Karak, about an hour and a half away. We were advised by the English woman at the hotel that morning not to drive in the dark not knowing the winding roads, but we didn't listen. And I was glad I didn't. It was a breeze getting there and if those roads are so curvy they are considered dangerous, she hasn't driven much. We got to Karak and found all the roads to be one ways in one direction. Or at least it seemed that way. We finally got to the hotel we had been looking for and got out of the car to a man who was telling us where we could park. He followed us to the two hotels we check prices at and then asked if we would eat dinner at his restaurant. We agreed, although, I'm not sure how much choice we had at that point. I asked to use the bathroom and was taken into the kitchen, if you can call it that, to the corner where an accordion door separated me from him. I quickly went and exited looking at the sparse set up for cooking. To my surprise the food was excellent. I got a breaded chicken and Jeff got kebab and we shared a stewed tomato dish. And we didn't even get sick! The hotel we stayed at was pretty awful. It had nice views of the valley but the room seemed wet and mold was growing on the walls, not to mention it was very cold. We made it through the night and got up to walk around the Crusader castle just outside our door. The castle is the main draw to the town. It is set on a hill with great views all around. There were lots of underground passage ways and rooms making it fun to explore. We really liked it but had to leave for the 4 hour drive to Petra. I was too excited to put it off any longer......