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Published: January 6th 2009
The majestic Monastery of Petra
Can you see Hannah near the entrance?
038 - Jordan - Petra
12/10/08 - 12/24/08
Caught between a rock, a dead sea, and a hard to find work place
Rocks all around us! Salt rocks in the Dead Sea, Masada's rock fortress perched on a hill, a city in Jordan whose name literally means 'rock', and the vibrant coral of Sinai's Red Sea (yes, I know the difference between rock and coral).
First stop, the lowest place on earth: The Dead Sea. A body of water so full of salt and minerals that you literally can't sink! If you don't know how to swim (or float for that matter) this is the spot to get started (don't get water in your eyes though, cause it can sting pretty bad)! The mud is known as the best in the world, it's a do-it-yourself mud bath for pampering your skin... not quite the same as a day spa treatment back home, but a whole lot cheaper! The Dead Sea is accessed through some of the Palestinian Territories of Israel so we ended up busing it through much of the infamous West Bank. Luckily, we didn't experience any problems traveling through those regions.
If you check
Floating on the Dead Sea
It's impossible to sink!!
out the cover of National Geographic the December 2008 issue, that's where we were!!! Masada was an impenetrable fortress built on top of a mountain by Herod, one of Israel's great rulers and architects. The Romans, in an attempt to conquer the compound, spent months building a ramp that would lead them over the fortress walls. The night before the walls were breached, the Jews, who were living inside, saw that their fate was futile and agreed to a mass suicide. They put themselves into groups of ten and one man killed the other nine before taking his own life. When the Romans finally broke through the next day everyone was dead, save for a couple of women that were hiding. Crazy, huh?!? The Jews still hold a sense of pride in Masada, a 'we won't let that
happen again' resolve.
Leaving Israel, we crossed the border into Jordan, and headed to the magnificent city of Petra. Literally carved into rock faces, Petra reminded us a lot of the rock hewn churches of Lalibela (Ethiopia; click here
for the blog). Remember that part in Indiana Jones (I believe it was the 'Temple of Doom') where they're galloping through crevasses
in the rocks and reach a magnificent temple carved into the rock? Yup, that was filmed here! If you've seen the movie you'll recognize the photo of the Treasury.
The coolest part about Petra was hiking around off the beaten path. We found some ruins along the northwest region that are rarely frequented by tourists. It was awe-inspiring to be 'lost' amongst these ancient structures in the middle of nowhere in the Middle East!
Finally, we headed to Dahab, Egypt, aspiring to get jobs as Divemasters on a Red Sea liveaboard boat. Bad timing seems to be the norm for us, and we arrived during their low season. That, coupled with the global economic crisis, has drastically reduced the number of tourists. Less tourists equates to less people diving, which means dive centers don't need extra help from Divemasters. Everywhere we asked, and we probably checked out at least 30 different centers, we were politely rejected. After about a week of job searching, we called it quits and just focused on relaxing and diving around Dahab.
The highlight of diving the Red Sea was a phenomenal wreck called the Thistlegorm. Some argue that this is the best
wreck dive in the world. In my limited experience, I would agree, it's hands down the best wreck I've ever seen. The Thistlegorm is about 130 meters long and was sunk in 1941 to a depth of about 30 meters. Interestingly it was discovered by Jacques Cousteau in the 50's and kept secret until the 90's. We did two investigative dives and were able to go inside on the second one. It was like swimming through a WWII museum: dozens of Jeeps, motorcycles, ammunition, boots, etc., all clearly visible as we swam from one compartment to the next. Amazing!! If you're a diver, you should definitely put this on your master list of must dives!!
Leaving Africa on Christmas Eve we crossed the Atlantic and headed to Argentina to begin the last leg of our journey: South America. This is the first time that the end of our journey has started to come into focus, and naturally, we're a bit melancholy about having to give up this nomadic lifestyle. Sniff sniff...
Still, we have a couple of months left in what many call the most backpacker-friendly place on Earth. We're planning to making the most of it! Next
stop, Buenos Aires, Argentina!!
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