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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Holy Land Day 5 Part 2

After leaving the Jordan River valley, we climb Mount Nebo. It's deceiving. It looks like an easy slope, but the bus must take switchbacks and crazy turns to reach the top. Our driver, like his Israeli counterpart, is well-trained. 
One part is like a Magnetic Hill in New Brunswick, an optical illusion. We looked like we were going downhill at one point, but we actually rolled backward. Not the kind of thing one should do without guardrails, I'm thinking!
There are sheep, but not as many as I expected. Mount Nebo is where Moses climbed to see the Promised Land. Because he disobeyed God, he was only allowed to see it, not enter it. When we finally reach the top, we look across the valley. It's hazy out, but we can see the Dead Sea, Jericho, the Judean hills, everything.
And so much trash. The mountains are a popular escape for valley dwellers, and they often come up to picnic here. The advancements in disposable items from diapers to water bottles has exceeded the realization that they do not rot.
Still, we sit in the shade and look down at the valley while we eat. 

The air is cooler and fresher. On our way back to the bus, (some chose to eat at one of the two restaurants where we stopped) we chat with one owner, who lived in Toronto. We notice that if they say they have been in Canada, it's Toronto. But this man speaks excellent Canadian English and is familiar with the Greater Toronto Area, so I suspect he is telling the truth. 
We ascend even further up the mountain to the chapel at the top. The guide chides us because some had chosen to eat at one restaurant over the one he recommended. He says he'd recommended one over the other because it had not been shut down due to patrons getting ill. He says he is responsible for us. Thankfully, no one became ill, and I can't think that any of us would blame him if that had happened. 
On the way up, we spy a large pistachio tree down in the valley. Tradition says this is the place that Moses struck the rock when he disobeyed God. In a small cave behind the tree, water still flows from a rock. James read the passage from the Old Testament about it. 

At the top, there is a church, and before that, an obelisk as Muslims and Jews and Christian all recognize Moses as a prophet. The statues are missing their heads, as ancient Muslims consider it sacrilegious to have an image of man. 
A female dog has set her puppies at the edge of the mosaic floor in the museum. I suppose they are left to their own because dogs aren't kept as pets like they are here in Canada.

James read from Deuteronomy 34 while we were on the look off. 
Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab ... Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”
On our way to the hotel, we stopped at a souk, where I purchased a small Fanta for $2. When I asked the clerk, a young man, how much it was, he said he didn't know. He didn't know? Unlikely. What really happens is that the clerk at the cash register sizes up the customer and prices it accordingly. Many of us Canadians consider that unfair. And though most gifts were priced, they were expensive and one woman returned her purchase a few minutes after she'd bought it, once she'd been told it would be cheaper down at the Dead Sea. The clerk insisted that it wouldn't be the real thing down there.  It's so very different than what we're used to. And bartering, an accepted norm here, is something we're unused to. I'm sure we will soon adjust once we hit some markets later on. 
On our way through Petra, the town, we passed another spring that Moses was to have struck for water. But someone has set up a row of vending machines in front of it so we only caught a glimpse of it. 
Later, we finally reached our hotel, Movenpick, an uber-fancy hotel not unlike a sultan's palace on the inside.

To enter, we must first have our luggage x-rayed and go through a metal detector that is set up in a tent in front of the hotel. 

An excellent buffet awaited us and after supper, my husband and I with Krista, another on our tour, walked around the block. We saw a Jordanian bride coming in for her reception. She wore a white princess gown, with a long, heavy white lace veil, and a white cloak with a hood that fell completely over her face to touch her chest. She was totally blind and I couldn't help but wonder if it was in some way a metaphor for how she was entering her marriage. The young man with her had to help her take each step. I didn't see if she managed to go through the metal detector or not. 
Our room's fridge has a small mini bar. No alcohol, of course, but the soft drinks were welcomed.
One other woman and I agree that we don't feel comfortable in Jordan, most likely due to how women are treated here. One person closer to the front thought the driver wasn't driving as defensively as a Canadian might. Again, the cultural differences stand out. 
But we are safely ensconced in the finest hotel so far, and tomorrow, we will see Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I can't wait!

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