We left San Francisco after a flurry of packing, ballet going (San Francisco Ballet’s opening night on January 21), and foot binding (I broke my metatarsal five days earlier while walking Bobbosan), and we boarded our United plane for Frankfurt and then to Amman, Jordan. On board, I recognized a family friend, Anne Grey, seated just behind me. Barry and I settled in for our 11 hour flight and we landed without incident in Frankfurt, Germany, at 9 am local time. Navigating the Frankfurt airport with a soft cast on my left foot was a challenge - we walked about a mile, trudged upstairs and down, took a rail car, clambered up more stairs, went to the wrong lounge, traipsed through more duty free shops, and finally sank into a comfortable chair and surfed on wifi. We were a little tired, but not exhausted, surprisingly, and easily made our Lufthansa flight for Amman, Jordan, leaving at about 2 pm. By 8 pm, we were comfortably ensconced in our hotel room at the Four Seasons and ready for a light supper in the lobby bar. A very soft landing after 24 hours of travel.
Breakfast was a magnificent buffet of fruit, nuts, sushi, eggs, and delicious flat bread (some with pepperoni). Neither of us felt jet-lagged after a solid night’s sleep, and we were ready to journey on with our guide, Majdi, and driver, Raed. But it was raining - raining pretty hard hail at times and flooding streets by six inches or more. We made a stop at the Citadel with a thrilling view of Amman and its limestone buildings spread across the mountains. The view spans a 7000 seat Roman amphitheater still in use, the imposing government palace, and multi-million dollar homes and embassies where wolves and hyenas roamed not thirty years ago, according to Majdi. Upon our request, Majdi took us to Mount Nebu where Moses saw the promised land and then died. The Franciscan order built a church here and founded an archeological museum which houses stone tools from Homo Erectus 1.5 million years ago and more recent artifacts from the Romans.
Then we went Madaba, a nearby town, where we went to see the Church of St. George, otherwise known as the Church of the Map for its 20 foot long mosaic floor depicting the Holy Land from Lebanon to the Nile River. You can see the accurate placement of the walled city of Jerusalem, the Jordan and Nile Rivers, and the Dead Sea as it was in the 6th century before it shrank to its present size through evaporation. For such a precious and unique treasure, there is not much security for the 6th century tiled floor. An active Orthodox church congregates there regularly, and the mosaic map is just roped off. One small section isn’t even roped off; it’s just partially covered by a pew. Yet the tiles remain colorful and intact.
From there we made our way by mini-van through driving rain and traffic for a three-hour ride to Petra. Just outside the city of Wadi Musa where Petra is located, it was snowing. There was up to several inches of snow on the ground and more coming. Not to worry, our guide said, the bulldozer comes every two hours on the main road. We decided to cancel our third night in Petra, in part because of continued threatening weather. We couldn’t understand why our travel agent had planned for us to stay in Petra the third night anyway, as we would have had to get up at 4 am on Wednesday morning in order to make our plane to Dubai. Meanwhile, I started experimenting with how to keep my left foot dry inside the walking cast. My best guess is double socks and a dry bag. We’ll see tomorrow when we walk the five mile hike to tour the archeological wonders of ancient Petra.