“Proof of life,” was the subject line of several emails to friends back home. They insisted I check in at least every couple of days from Jordan, a country from which they were afraid my husband and I would never return. Meanwhile, as these precious friends followed the news, prayed for our safety and cursed what they felt was our total lack of judgment; we were having the time of our lives.
Now that we are home, I want to share the true story about traveling in Jordan, and why we recommend visiting this amazing country.
1. Jordan is safe. Let’s get this one out of the way first. At no time did we feel unsafe in Amman or anywhere else in Jordan. Security is a priority, and although the presence of law enforcement is unobtrusive, it’s definitely there. Yes, Jordan shares boarders with Syria and Iraq, but it also shares boarders with Israel and Saudi Arabia. Think of Jordan as a good family living on the edge of a rough neighborhood. The military and security forces are working hard to insure the violence doesn’t spill over into Jordan. The harsh reality is that anything can happen anywhere, but in Jordan, we felt safer than we do in some cities in the U.S.
2. Jordan has historic and archeological sites you won’t find anywhere else. From the Citadel overlooking Amman to the almost surreal landscape and structures of Petra to the Bedouin tents and spectacular rock formation at Wadi Rum, nothing can prepare you for the number and magnitude of Jordan’s historic and natural treasures. Earliest inhabitants, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders and Muslims are represented at numerous sites throughout the country.
Jerash was a Roman city, discovered 70 years ago beneath the sand. This outdoor museum is the site of remarkably preserved ancient structures. As you walk through Jerash, it’s easy to lose yourself in the past.
Then there are the stunning mosaics at Madaba, discovered in Byzantine churches in the 1800s. A detailed map of the Holy Land in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, a floor mosaic in the Church of the Apostles depicting scenes of nature and many more treasures in tile and glass can be found scattered at locations throughout Madaba.
And there is so much more: a Roman amphitheater in the heart of Amman, a Crusader castle at Karak, extraordinary museum collections. These are only a small sample of Jordan’s historic offerings.
3. Jordan’s landscapes are breath-taking. Jordan is a country with endless square miles of sand. It also has bustling cities, rolling hills, fertile fields, rugged mountains, rivers and the Dead Sea. Photographers and outdoor enthusiasts will find no end of opportunities to enjoy Jordan’s magnificent scenery.
4. Jordanian cuisine is a treat for the taste buds. Wholesome foods prepared with fresh ingredients are the building blocks upon which the cooking of Jordan is built. We enjoyed salads of all varieties at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The eggplant, pita, humus and other Middle Eastern staples are prepared with flavor, texture and that special something that makes it all uniquely Jordanian. From street food to fine dining, it’s hard to go wrong.
5. The people are warm, friendly and kind. They say, “Welcome” as they pass you by, and are generous to a fault. In reality, they are Jordan’s most valuable treasures.
Jordan has no oil or minerals. The country relies heavily on tourists drawn to its rich history and stunning landscapes. It has a wealth of one-of-a-kind experiences waiting for those who can look beyond the scare mongers, and indulge themselves in Jordan’s fascinating history and culture.
Disclaimer: A considerable portion of our Jordan experience was generously hosted by Jordan Tourism Board. However, all opinions, as always, are entirely my own.
By Contributing Author: Penny Zibula, Freelance Travel Writer and Blogger, Six Legs Will Travel