Playing in the water
Petra - Madaba
Our group had pretty much dispersed at the top of Petra and we all made our way back to town at our leisure with no plans until suppertime. Mom and I grabbed some fruit at a shop then headed to the hotel to escape the heat and wash away the dust and sweat from our excursion. We had a nap before going to a cafe to just chill out for a little while. It wasn't long before a couple of our other group members passed by us and pulled up a chair and we spent the rest of the afternoon chit chatting and watching the world go by. After a group supper we again split off into different activities. Some went to the hotel for quiet time, some went to Petra by Night, and the rest of us went to the Cave bar just outside the site for a couple of drinks. (or coffee for some). The Petra by Night people joined us at the bar afterwards and we ended up staying there until very late. It was packed in this little place! We had a good time, but it made the next morning feel far too
Dropping water levels are a cause for concern
From Petra we travelled to Madaba. We stopped at a few places along the way including 2 castles and an inn that had been built into a cave system. It was neat. The last stop was at the Dead Sea. I wasn't super interested in going to the Dead Sea, but I wouldn't skip it being so close to it. It was definitely a different experience! You could literally flip yourself to a vertical position, as if standing, and bob up and down like a cork.
Of course being at a beach there are always creepy old guys staring at the girls in their bikinis...and this place was no exception. There were two muslim guys wearing their neck to toe dresses sitting in patio chairs leering at all of us as we walked in and out of the water. Completely covered up and only there to perv. I felt bad for the muslim women here because they could not join in on the frolicking in the water. They would dip their toes and hands into the water, but they couldn't come in and experience the dead sea to the fullest extent. Of course the men were jumping around all over the place, swimming and splashing each other and having a great time. I understand that Muslim women are modest, and don't want their bodies seen by men other than their husbands....but why not have a private beach area that they could go to and swim with other women? It seemed very unfair to me. I did see one lady with a modest swimsuit sort of thing...it was like a swimsuit from the 1920's that covered her from her neck to her ankles and had a hood to cover her hair. It still seemed like she was doing something sort of risque though as it was tight around her legs and body and none of the other women had any similar attire. It is hard to imagine living in a culture where my actions and movements would be so restricted simply because of my gender. I have to say that all of my encounters with Muslim men in the country were positive. They were polite and respectful and I didn't feel threatened in any way, but I also felt that their attitudes towards me were different because I was a foreigner. Instances like this, and many others, make me wonder at the status of women in Muslim countries. Why do they let men be so dominant over them, and if they could choose a different type of life would they take it? I never had the opportunity to talk to women while I was there, and I felt as if that was the intent. I do know Canadian Muslims who are women, but I think their lives are very different. They are educated and a part of the work force, they go about in public and choose for themselves how modest their clothing needs to be. So it seems less of a religious difference and more of a cultural one...why are women in the middle east so isolated? Maybe they don't feel that way, but again, most of our encounters with locals were with men and when we did speak with women it was brief.
Even though asking some of these questions might seem rude or offensive, I think part of the point of travel is to understand cultural differences. Who ever just blindly accepts a circumstance without wanting to know the reasons behind it? And when you meet someone completely different than yourself, you instinctively want to know why they do things the way they do or like the things that they like. Curiosity about others is a natural human drive, and is probably a significant factor in why we travel. Are not "experiences with the local people" always the best ones, and the ones the make the most interesting stories? When I see blogs and comments made by other travellers I would believe that.
I'm getting sidelined, and at the risk of offending people I'll leave my questioning aside.
The Dead Sea as a natural attraction is worth going to. As I mentioned, it wasn't in my list of places I wanted to visit but I enjoyed bobbing up and down in the weird water and playing in the mud like a kid.
From the Dead Sea we continued our drive to Madaba where we visited a church to see the mosaic tiles on the floors and the walls. It was neat, but I had seen other Roman mosaics so I wasn't blown away by them by any means. I would have to say that for floors, the ones at Jerash were larger and more complete.
We spent the night in Madaba and went out for a birthday supper in a local restaurant. Everyone there sang along and danced to the middle east version of happy birthday. It was cool the way all of these strangers joined in on the party. Celebrating life is always a good time, and the more the merrier!
Our last day was spent in Amman/Jerash but I will make that a separate entry to keep things short and sweet!
Our last day was spent
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