This past week, I partook in a week-long retreat with my program, designed to show students tourist and non-tourist regions of Jordan outside of Amman. The first two days, we visited Wadi Rum and Petra. Wadi Rum, also known as Wadi Qamar (Valley of the Moon), is a region in Southern Jordan made up of sandstone rock. The Nabatean civilization inhabited Wadi Rum, and many engravings are seen on various rocks. During our time, we ate lunch with a Bedouin community that lives in the valley, rode camels, and watched the sunset. Wadi Rum’s landscape was breathtaking and it was a peaceful experience watching the sunset.
The next day we visited Petra, the most popular tourist destination in Jordan. Like Wadi Rum, Petra was inhabited by the Nabateans where many of their structures still stand. Petra is also known as the Rose city due to the pink colored stone. Al-Khazneh (The Treasury) is one of the largest structures in Petra and is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. I was able to walk to one of the highest points in Petra and view the mountains and ancient structures.
Following our Petra tour, my class toured around Wadi Musa and visited Ain Musa (Moses’s Well), the site where Nabi Musa struck water from a rock. Visiting the spring was the highlight of the day, as I had the opportunity to rinse my hands and face with the water.
The following days included a visit to lesser-known regions. We stayed for a night in Shoubak, a region known for its fruit production. We also visited the Shoubak Castle once occupied by Baldwin l of Jerusalem and subsequently, Salahuddin. We also traveled to the north of Jordan near the Palestinian border. It was fascinating to comprehend how close we were to the border, as my phone continued to alert me that I was in Eastern Palestine. We resided in the northern region for the rest of the retreat, where we visited a local family, went on hikes, and cooked the Jordanian national dish, mansaf. For the last day of the retreat, we took a trip to the Dead Sea before returning to Amman.
The retreat provided me with a greater chance to practice Arabic and learn more about Jordanian history and culture. I am especially thankful for our tour guide, who provided immense knowledge not only on Jordanian history but also his own 30-year tour guide experience. When we toured Petra, he mentioned how the rock formations continue to change, often causing problems for the tourist sector, as some of the rocks have cracked, causing great repairment.
This week is all about mid-terms and subsequently, traveling for spring break!