Medina-tain of the Decapolis

Jerash and Umm Qais, Jordan

Today we hired a driver and I took Philip north to 2 cities of the Roman Decapolis, the league of 10 cities that were economic and military strongholds on the edge of the Roman Empire in Palestine. I love Petra, and there are so many things there I still haven’t done. Still, I find the cities of the north of Jordan more compelling to me. In part, perhaps, it’s because I know so much less about them now. Perhaps it’s because the mobs of tourists are slightly less. And in the case of Umm Qais, it’s definitely the old adage: Location! Location! Location!

From Philip Goes North

Umm Qais

This is my favorite place in Jordan. The view is just amazing: the Yarmouk River Valley, the Syrian Golan, the Israeli Golan, Lake Tiberius (aka Sea of Galilee), the city of Tiberius, Israel, the Jordan River Valley … you feel like you’re standing on top of the world. Add to that the delicious food at the restaurant there, and Philip’s fabulous company, and you’ve got a perfect day! We wandered about in the ruins down the street of columns to the west, too, found the mosaic floor hidden back in the weeds, and some beautiful flowers. This is the best time to visit the northwest of Jordan, because even with the stingy little bit of rain we’ve gotten this year, the whole Irbid/Ajlun region just explodes with greenery and flowers, like the kind of spring-time I’m used to from the American northeast.

From Philip Goes North

Jerash

Jordanians must have gotten over the little Danish cartoon fiasco, because the Danish-Jordanian archaeology partnership in Jerash seems to be alive and well. Philip and I discovered a number of things that I’m absolutely certain weren’t there even as recently as when I came to Jerash with CLS at the end of June. For one, there was this whole Byzantine church next to the Hippodrome and Hadrian’s Arch, with this pristine mosaic floor, and I swear it wasn’t there before!

Perhaps the most refreshing thing was our timing. We arrived in Jerash in late afternoon, a time at which I’d never visited the Roman ruins there, and I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of Jordanian families lounging in the grass around the park, enjoying the beautiful sunshine and dramatically warmer weather.

From Philip Goes North

Rediscovering Jordan

It’s actually been very nice in quite a few ways to be travelling around with Philip (even if people keep mistaking him for my husband!) and doing the tourist thing. Sometimes in Amman, between work and my social life, I almost forget that I’m in Jordan, especially now that my work schedule keeps me from visiting the village. Even cycling with Tareef, while it gets me out of Amman to parts of Jordan I’ve never seen before, often feels more like California than the Middle East. But with Philip around, I have an excuse to spend a little more money and get out into the country. In fact, our lovely driver Waseem almost has me convinced to sit for the tour guide examinations to become a licensed Jordanian tour guide. I love my job at Bell, but some weeks I feel like I may as well be in Bulgaria or China or anywhere, I use so little Arabic and have so little contact to “real” Jordanian life.

So, please, come visit me in Jordan! Philip, Auntie Viv and my parents will all testify that I’m an excellent trip planner and tour guide, and I only get better with more practice!

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