We had a very enjoyable day today in Madaba, our first real beach day of the trip. We started out late this morning as usual and headed to the bus station in the town of Madaba where we stayed last night in the Salome hotel, Herod country. (one of my heroes from history, he couldn’t really help himself, could he.) We were in the bus stop looking for a taxi with seat belts in the back. They all have them in the front but they are rarely functioning in the back, there is no law requiring them to wear seatbelts in the rear.
They think we are mad when we insist on only using taxi’s with working rear seatbelts, the driver’s go to great lenghts to try to convince us that there is no necessity to use them, that they will drive slowly, that they can only drive slowly as the road is so winding and narrow or that the car only goes slowly. When we say it is for the safety of our children they look at us as if we have 10 heads. We eventually found a taxi and after some bemused looks I managed to get the driver to extract the seatbelt buckles from under the back seats and get them both working much to Lisa’s delight. We now had safe transport and a driver by the name of Ali.
First stop Nount Nebu, apparently this is where Moses was brought by God to survey the promised land, not a bad choice God. There were excellent views over to the Dead Sea, the Jordan Valley and Israel.
Next stop Bethany on Jordan, this is where apparently John the Baptist baptised Jesus of Nazereth. We paid our 7 Dinars at the kiosk and waited for the shuttle bus to bring us the 3 or 4 kilometers down to the river and baptism site. The shuttle bus was like something you might see on a safari, and Axel did ask if we were on one, I told him we were on a sort of religious safari, biblical big game.
This is a lovely part of Jordan with shaded walks down to the river Jordan and past the supposed site at a spring of the actual baptism. This for me is a little like calling some tiny stream in Umbria Caesars Rubicon or the Shed’s on Clontarf Road the spot where Brian Boru pitched his tent before taking on the vikings. We did get to see Israel which was about 10 metres away on the other bank of the Jordan, and we discussed travelling to Jeruselum but decided against it as tensions seem to be quite high over there at the moment. I told Lisa they were probably listening to us discussing tensions being quite high over there, over the river.
Next on our jaunt was the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea very hard to swim in and tastes really really salty. I got a mouthful of it and it was shit. It is very nice to float in though and you could read a book or newspaper without it getting wet if you were so inclined even though it would be much easier to read on the beach or in your hotel room. All the big resort hotels along the beach charge you for the pleasure of using their facilities and access to the beach. We spent the afternoon at the Amman public beach which still charges but nowhere near as expensive as the resorts.
There are pots of Dead Sea mud available for full body mud packs which very enjoyable in a slimy, smelly sort of way. Once washed of in the salty water your skin feels smooth and silky and all for next to nothing.
After our perfectly blissful day we sat back and watched the sun set over Israel.