January 17, 2012
We checked out of our hotel in Amman and got all our luggage loaded on the bus. We were headed back to Israel, but first, we would go to Jerash. Jerash, originally called Gerasa, is considered one of the most important and best preserved Roman cities in the Middle East. It is also where Jesus cast the demons into the herd of swine.
The interesting thing about the ruins is that they are surrounded by the city of Jerash, which is about 48 miles north of Amman. As you stand and look at the beautiful columns and archways, you can also see the apartment buildings and office buildings of the city just in the background.
Temple of Artemis - Notice the buildings of the modern city of Jerash in the background
Hadrian's Arch - The sky was so blue it was amazing. The weather was nice with a slightly chilly wind. As long as we were in the sun, it was fairly warm.
Detail of Hadrian's Arch. This was built in 129 AD to commemorate Hadrian's visit to the city. It was to become the new Southern Gate.
More detail of Hadrian's Arch
The Hippodrome - this was the smallest hippodrome in the Roman Empire
Our Jordanian guide, Zaid
The Southern Ampitheatre
A view of the Southern Ampitheatre from the floor of the theatre
Two musicians entertained us on the drum and bagpipe
I had assumed that the bagpipes came to Jordan from the British Army some time in the past. It was weird seeing and hearing bagpipes in the Middle East and while in Amman I had noticed a few music stores selling bagpipes. So before I started this post, I looked up bagpipes in Jordan. Guess what I found out? Bagpipes actually originated in the Middle East. There is an Assyrian stone carving, now in the British Museum, from 800BC showing a man playing bagpipes and there are other ancient carvings and paintings illustrating the playing of bagpipes from other areas of the Middle East. Bagpipes have been played in the Middle East for 3000 years! Who knew? Obviously, not me.
After the Jordanian musicians had performed, Sari sang for us. Sari has a lovely mezzo-soprano voice and the accoustics in the ampitheatre amplified her voice wonderfully.
The oval Forum
Inside the oval Forum
Once we had seen Jerash, it was off to Israel. This time we went to the border crossing at the King Hussein Bridge. This bridge crosses the Jordan River and connects Jordan with the West Bank in Israel. It is currently the sole designated exit/entry point for Palestinians who reside in the West Bank and want to connect to the outside world. We exited Jordan and walked over to the Israeli entry point, once again dragging all our luggage, etc. with us. This time, there were carts available to put our luggage on as we proceeded through the line to the security checkpoint. I put all my luggage, my purse and outerwear on the belt at security. The only thing I had in my hand was my passport. This I gave to the security officer and I told her, before going through the metal detector that I had an artificial knee. Naturally, the metal detector went off. I reminded her again that I had an artificial knee hoping they could just run the want over my knee and let me through, but no. She waved me over to some chairs against a wall and told me to sit down and wait. Luckily, Marty saw what was happening and retrieved my effects from the belt.
I sat next to an attractive Moslem woman and we chatted about what was going on. Then I noticed that Sari had been detained as well. We probably waited for 20 minutes, and then Sari was called over to a curtained booth. She was worried because all her “stuff” was just sitting around on the other side of security with no one looking after it, but I believe Irene or Larry finally figured out that she had been detained too and snagged her stuff and put it on a cart and kept it with them. Meanwhile, the Muslim woman told me she had been waiting over an hour for someone to clear her through security. Then, an Israeli officer came over to me and asked me to follow her. I told her that the woman next to me had been waiting longer, but they didn’t seem to care. So off I went to my own curtained booth and was searched. They even made me pull up my pant leg so they could see the scar on my knee from the surgery. Once Sari and I were cleared we were able to cross through security and meet up with the group. Guess what held Sari up? Her underwire bra! Mine made the handheld metal detector go off too. Something tells me that the Israelis have their metal detectors set way too high!