After our big balloon ride at dawn, we headed north towards the small town of Madaba. It was a big drive on the challenging Desert Highway, which is a mess – all broken up because of the trucks stampeding to and from Aqaba. And they were pretty much all we saw on the road, especially the morning before when we were coming from Petra.
Hitch hiking is common in Jordan. We passed many men of all ages standing on the side of the road with their hands out, which they lowered when they could see we were tourists. I guess it was too hard to explain to a non-Arabic speaker where they wanted to go. So they waited for the next ride, standing next to the line of conifers that were all leaning east from a lifetime of growing in the wind.
Double and triple parking isn’t something people concern themselves with, either. No worries – two and three cars deep, especially outside mosques on Fridays. Drove through a country town and a group of four men were crossing the road to go to the mosque, hands were in pockets, shoulders hunched against the wind, then when they saw our tourist faces in the car, they waved and smiled and called out. The friendliness of Jordanian strangers continues to warm us.
We paused our journey to Madaba at Karak, a crusader castle, one of the largest in the region. Unfortunately, our visit became a rushed one as it started to rain, so we headed to Kir Heres for lunch, only 20 metres from the castle. A delicious and simple meal of vegetable soup, tomato, green pepper and feta salad and sautéed mushrooms with herbs.
On the drive it became more and more apparent how badly they deal with their rubbish situation in this country. There were fields of debris. Near Karak, there were fields actually plowed as though for planting, but littered with…well…litter! Plastic bags caught in shrubs and trees, even in Wadi Rum this was an issue (just not as bad as the streets in towns).
We overnighted in Madaba before heading to Israel the next morning. Thoroughly enjoyed what the city had to offer, especially dinner at Haret Jdoudna – the poshest place in town. We were served by one of the head waiters who had excellent English, and chose a modest meal as we were not particularly hungry – he was concerned that we were going to lack satisfaction after the meal, but it was enough for us looking for something light. We went with a tabouleh, mushrooms stuffed with spinach and cheese, and mixed vegetable sawani. Of course, bread fresh from the oven was served complimentary.
Our stay at the Mosaic City Hotel was fantastic value for money. A 3 star hotel that was clean, had a comfortable bed, hot water in the shower, good pressure, great location and helpful staff. The friendly man at reception also sorted our transfer to the border the next morning for us. Glad we are returning to this one before flying home.
Our adventures continue with a visit to Israel…
Accommodation: Mosaic City Hotel