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Sunday, October 13: Day 174 – Desert Castle

Jamel who manages all of the mud-wallowing tourists at the Dead Sea took a shine to us. So much so that he gave us a water bottle container full of Dead Sea mud to take with us.

Since we can’t take it with us, we mudded up before showering last night. What a mess. I am sorry for the hotel attendants.

All the “maids” are men. Marwan says that they are faster than the women, but the women clean better.

My glasses had a problem. One piece was missing from the temple so I could not wear them. Fortunately, Rob had encouraged me to bring a second pair…just in case. Marwan’s brother is an optometrist so his nephews fixed me right up. They came up with a novel solution using screws. They also reglued the foam inserts in my prescription sunglasses.

We saw the children going to public school. Grades 1-6 wear blue uniforms and attend school from 6am-11am. A half hour later, grades 7-12 arrive in their green uniforms and stay until 4pm. Of course, they have different teachers, but they don’t have many buildings. They switch times every other month.

Each private school has its color and own building. Their hours are 7:30 – 2:00. University students wear whatever they want.

Often the young girls wear hijabs to school if they are experiencing a lice problem.

We had a long discussion about units of measure. Dunam is 1,000 square meters. Ten dunams in one hectare.

In the USA, we use acres. An acre is 0.4 hectares. Acreage is way to assess farm size. Small family farms average 231 acres; large family farms average 1,421 acres and the very large farms average acreage is 2,086. Small family farms make up 88 percent of the farms in America.

Today we are traveling to see desert palaces. When they first were built, it was an oasis, a place to stay in the shade and water the camels. Qasr means palace and Kharaneh means the sound of running water. Today Qasr Kharan is dry and dusty.

Marwan said that a girl fell from the top so be careful.

They are not entirely sure if it was an inn, but if it was, it was the earliest Islamic inn built in 710AD. It is on the road to the Hejaz Railroad. I had never heard of it, but the railroad was built around 1900 from Damascus to Mecca in order to transport Muslims on their pilgrimage to Mecca. On camel, it would take 40-50 days. All mosques contributed to the project. I don’t think that it runs today.

At each stop, there is always a tent that was quick with a glass of hot sweet tea. My daughter, Julie Street, and I often share a glass of sweet tea. Here in Jordan occasionally we put in wild sage as it is good for your stomach. It adds a pleasant flavor.

I noticed this ancient horn, and I thought my dad would appreciate it. The owner said it was very old and comes from his nearby Bedouin village.

Nabateans came from Yemen and lived in Petra. Caravan traders dealt in frankincense and myrhh. They would stop at these green areas to trade and obtain water.

Qasr Amra is a little palace and was another stop along the way. It was more like a resort as it had an elaborate bath house and hunting lodge.

Almost all of the dogs in Jordan seem to look alike. Many places we go, there are dogs sleeping in the shade and, they look like they could be related. An Internet search called them Canaan dogs.

Marwan says that it is not allowed to have an indoor dog. Other animals are okay. This is because your home is where you pray and may have originated because of cleanliness before prayers.

We are 30 km from Saudi Arabia and 250 km from Iraq.

Qa’al Azraq used to be a large oasis. Many birds migrated to these wetlands. But the water has been used up in farming and due to increased population. Now only a very small portion remains green. There was a castle built by the Romans 198-211AD.

We saw evidence of games such as mancala hollowed out in the rocks.

This is a room where Lawrence of Arabia stayed when he was here.

There are many rooms and were used by soldiers traveling with Lawrence during a very cold winter.

The name Azrak means blue.

We travel back to Amman to the Kempinski Hotel. We have had a buffet dinner every evening in the dining area. Jameel was always happy to see us. This is our last night. We will miss him.

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