[Mom – September 14, 2019 – We have had another wonderful day. We drove to Little Petra, but had to wait for a herd of sheep to cross the road. Little Petra lived up to its name..little sig (entry), little valley, little crowds, little pestering by touts (vendors). We loved it! I even got serenaded by a group of boys when I asked them about school. When I told them I was a teacher, they said “We know.” We left there and drove to Shobak Castle. We had to look closely, but Shane was on top of the castle. We are spending the night at Dana Biosphere Reserve. Our room is simple but then we walk out on our private balcony for a view that is magnificent. We thank God daily for the opportunity to see the beautiful country of Jordan! We took a walk around Old Dana while Bill took a nap. We peeked in a mosque and spent a delightful hour with our new friend, Achmed, drinking coffee and tea and learning about the Jordan culture and life in Old Dana.]
Today I got to see a couple things in the middle of Jordan that I did not get to see last time I was here. It started with Little Petra, which some people have said they enjoyed more than Petra itself. While I would rather spend a day seeing the grandeur of the Petra valley, Little Petra is worth visiting for an hour. As my mom said above, everything about it was a scaled down version of the main Petra. The entire site is only one narrow valley long and at most takes 10 minutes to walk from the beginning to the end overlooking a vista. I did REALLY enjoy the fact the vendors were so low keyed.
The next place we stopped at was Shobak Castle (also know as Montreal Castle) which was built in 1115 by Balwin I of Jerusalem during the Crusades. It, along with Kerek Castle which I will talk about tomorrow, were two of the most important
strongholds the crusaders built in Jordan. Shobak Castle is basically a pile of rubble now a days, but there has been some restoration work down and you can find many underground vaults and passages here. There is one that goes from the castle all the way down to the spring fed cisterns at the base of the hill the castle is built on. Sadly, this passage is closed to visitors now, but I did find one passage under a small church that led me for a couple hundred feet before dead ending. All in all I found Shobak Castle fascinating and enjoyed an hour exploring the ruins.
We finished the day in Dana Biosphere Reserve on the edge of a small Grand Canyon. This is a hikers paradise and nature is all around you, but if you don’t hike here it is still worth visiting. What I found most fascinating about this place is the fact that the old town just inside the rim was abandoned at the end of the Ottoman Era (around 1918) and is just now being rehabilitated. Many of the buildings are hundreds of years old and
look great, but just as many have not been touched in a hundred years. You can see some of the roofs caving in and can tell that the material was wood poles covered by reed mats and then mud. As my mom stated above, Achmed offered us tea to which I strongly suggested we take him up on. I am so happy both my mother and Janice enjoyed sitting there chatting and sipping tea as much as I did. Spending time with locals and just getting to hear how their day to day life goes is part of the reason to travel.