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Published: June 12th 2017
Geo: 31.7195, 35.7941
In addition to being windproof, our tent was also exceedingly dark. Before the sun rose, I heard what sounded like a persistent hum. While it sounded like rain, I was convinced it couldn't be, given where we were. I went out to the necessary a little after 7:00am, and while the sun was now up, I could clearly see in the sand the distinct impressions of rain drops. I later confirmed that there had indeed been rain showers earlier that morning. While there were rudimentary toilets (and showers...no one partook), there was no way to really get clean after the previous day's activities, but we resigned ourselves to this fate and simply got up and washed as best we could. Whatever electricity there had been the day before was exhausted from the solar generator, so we quietly congregated in the main tent for a subdued breakfast. Before 8:00am a LandCruiser (in equally as poor condition as our Jeep from the previous day) arrived to take us back into Rum, where we could retrieve our car and head north toward Amman. Within 30 minutes we were on our way, headed back to the city of Madaba, where we had spent
our first night in Jordan. We were flying to Tel Aviv at 4:10pm, and wanted to see the mosaics for which that city are famous before we left.
As I noted before, the Desert Highway is the main commercial artery linking Aqaba and Amman. It is a busy road running through dreary, barren country. As such, it was a very boring three-hour drive north. Aside from dodging pot holes and the errant truck entering the left lane, it was uneventful. The sheer volume of truck volume was real telling, and reflected -- I believe -- the closure of additional trading routes through Syria. On the southern leg of the route, too, was considerable truck traffic headed for western Iraq.
My original plans were to visit Mt. Nebo -- a cliffside, now with a church, which notes the location from which God allowed Moses to view the Holy Land before he died. His unknown tomb is supposed to be somewhere nearby, too. I'd been there many times before, and when the weather cooperates, it affords clear vista views across the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea into Israel. In good conditions you can see the spires of Jerusalem. As we neared the airport, which
sits considerable south of Amman, the winds had picked up and there were huge dust clouds which had formed. From the highway, we could watch the clouds of sands build and sweep across, obscuring the views in the distance. I knew that with these conditions, and the heat in the Jordan Valley, there would be no views from Mr. Nebo. While nice, the church there is not worth seeing on its own. I called an audible and aborted the GPS route to Mt. Nebo and headed straight to Madaba. Lots of new highway construction between Amman and airport -- much of it involving the new IKEA that just opened (something else I'd never envisioned in Jordan), we had to take a circuitous cross-country road into Madaba. As I mentioned in the beginning, Madaba is a majority Christian town, in which there have been many discoveries of ancient mosaics, which are now in amazing shape and very accessible to visitors. It's true claim to fame is a mosaic map of Jerusalem, completed in the 6th century, within the Greek Orthodox Church. The map, a replica of which we would see the following day in Jerusalem, shows the religious sites in that
city and the original gate structure. We encountered a large number of tour groups -- both foreign and Jordanian school children -- at the visitors' center and in the town. It had gotten much hotter since we left Wadi Rum, as warm air from the Jordan Valley was causing the wind and sand squalls we'd seen earlier. As such, we did not want to walk around too much, so we viewed the Holy Land mosaic and then decided to head to the airport for our flight. I did not know what we'd encounter with our car rental return (based on the ordeal with the pick-up), and I was not sure how strict security might be, as we were flying to Israel. With that in mind, we did a final consolidation on our suitcases and took a very cross-country trip back to the airport, seeking to avoid any additional time on the Desert Highway.
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