Friday, April 24, 2015

Last day in Jordan

As we left the gorge leading away from the Treasury, we saw the one and only sign indicating you should be cautious with the antiquities. In the US, the entire area would be roped off with guards keeping you from touching anything. This sign was the only one of it's kind we saw on our entire trip to Petra.

Our last evening in Petra was AGAIN very memorable. Our guide, Nader made arrangements in advance for a local restaurant (one of his favorites) to cook Mansaf for us. 
It takes several hours to cook so in advance he had asked if we wanted an authentic "Jordanian" dinner.  Never to shy away from an adventure, we all readily agreed.

According to Wikipedia, Mansaf is a traditional Jordanian dish made of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt called jammed, and served with rice or bulgur. It was served on a large platter with a layer of flatbread (markook or shrak) topped with rice and then meat, garnished with almonds and pine nuts.

Our Mansaf came to the table with a layer of flatbread on top to keep it warm so there was a dramatic unveiling when Nader removed the bread.

Mansaf is the national dish of Jordan and it is also common in Palestine. To a lesser degree it is also found in parts of Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. The name of the dish comes from the term "large tray" or "large dish."

This was our Mansaf dish. The yogurt sauce is to the left. It was fabulous!
This was a huge tray of food.  Note the size of the knives and fork in the upper right corner of the photo.  The tray of food was bigger than a large pizza and piled 4-5 inches high with pieces of lamb covered with almonds. The pieces of flatbread (shark) were also that big.

Mansaf is served on special occasions such as weddings, births and graduations, or to honor a guest, and on major holidays such as Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha, and Jordan's Independence Day. It is traditionally eaten collectively from a large platter in the Bedouin and rural style, standing around the platter with the left hand behind the back and using the right hand instead of utensils.

Nader gave us a demonstration on how to create a ball of rice and lamb then "flick" it into your mouth with your right thumb. You never touch the food with your left hand, and you never let your right hand go inside your mouth. YES, we all washed up very good before we started eating.
After our long day trekking through Petra, we opted to sit at the table instead of the tradition way of standing with your left hand behind you. Hubby D secured some wine from our hotel to take along as well.

DW picked up my phone and caught a bit of the experience in video.  The only problem was that she did not have a clean hand to stop the recording.  She used her nose to stop the camera.  That’s a memory for sure.

If you are reading this in an email, you will need to go to my blog page to watch DW's video.

The table was a mess when we finished. However, it was delicious!
The next morning, our last day in Jordan we were up early and on the road heading back to Amman. We traveled on the desert highway that was constructed as a supply route for the Iran-Iraq war.

These are not mountains or hills. These are piles of mined phosphorus. Mining phosphorus is a big industry in Jordan, however they do not process it in Jordan.
Our next stop was a Crusaders castle in Kerak

Kerak is south of Madaba and the capital of the biblical kingdom of Moab (Moses). Perched atop a steep hill, Kerak is a predominantly Christian town dominated by the largest and best preserved of the Crusader castles in the region. Nader provided great history and a tour of the castle. Our drive through the town was also very interesting - very rural and a very traditional Jordanian community.

Side note, Kerak was the home of the Jordanian pilot recently killed by ISIS. Nader told us the entire region mourned for the young man.

This is the main street in Kerak as seen through the front windshield of our van.
We ate a lot of sesame cookies this morning because we wanted to wait until we arrived in Amman to have a late lunch.
Lufa for sale in Kerak.
Several stores had shoes for sale and this is how they were displayed. 
After it was constructed in 1142 by the Crusaders, Kerak Castle became the center of the Emirates of Transjordan and the most important in a series of fortresses between Jerusalem and Aqaba. The Crusaders set up an impressive system of security: all the fortifications were a day's journey apart and each one lit a beacon at night to inform Jerusalem it was safe.
One thing very memorable about Kerak Castle was the wonderful visitor's toilet. It was the nicest one we "visited" in Jordan.
This caption has a "griffin."
The view from the top of the castle of the valley below was beautiful.
This is the castle kitchen. There was even a running water system.
The hall in the prison was not so inviting.
D tried his hand at mimicking the actions needed to shoot through the arrow window in the main portion of the castle.  It was a tight fit. Maybe men were smaller back then.
The top of the castle was very windy but I could not resist a selfie.
Another long hall way with arches. The light is all natural and supplied through slits in the ceilings.
When we arrived in Amman, Nader took us on a walking tour of the old town.

You would never guess the books we found out on the street in Amman.
Second book on the top left, "50 Shades." Guess the religious police missed this one.
The symbol with three hands (green, white and red) stands for the country of Jordan - it is the shape of the country.
This was a doorway in the "oldest" building in Amman.
These are eggs for sale on the street.
The market had mounds and mounds of green almonds. 

ES is looking at some lambs ready to be purchased and cooked.
Need some garlic?
All of the other signs were in Arabic except this one.  
I found a bag of popcorn from the US. 
After the vegetable market, we headed to a local restaurant located on the top floor of one of the old buildings.  There were many people smoking shisha. The restaurant was very local and VERY GOOD!

The green colored drink is mint lemonade. Once I had the courage to try it, I was hooked.  It is delicious.

Our final destination in Amman was a shop selling a sweet desert that Nader assured us we would love. I filmed this video walking through Amman to the sweets shop. Horns were honking all around us.

If you are reading this blog in an email, you will need to go to my blog page to watch the video.

On the way to the airport, we made a detour to a Starbucks restaurant we had spotted on our way into Amman several days earlier. The goal was to secure “Jordan” Starbucks mugs. I collect a mug from every adventure. We are starting to have a pretty good collection.

View from the Starbucks on the way to the airport.
We found this book inside the Starbucks.
These M&Ms caught my eye in the airport.  Middle Eastern people like sweets with their coffee and I wonder if M&Ms eat M&Ms when they drink coffee?
D, SW and ES could not resist one more analysis of the structure of the Amman airport. Buildings are in their blood.
Jordan was a wonderful adventure and completely surprising. The intriguing history, the amazing ruins and the friendly people – all of this adventure will be remembered for a long, long time.


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