I have been waiting for the opportunity to go hiking for a really long time. When the rainy December turned into crispy, sunny January, it was finally the time. Waking up early on a day off, packing ourselves into a bus, and heading North towards Ajloun and Irbid, we were off for a day of hiking. I couldn't have been happier.
Compared to Amman, Ajloun is higher and greener. There are farms, fields, forests, and an actual forest reserve too. Though the green is pleasant for the eyes after the shades of brown and beige of Amman, the forests are full of trash, which makes my heart bleed a bit. Recycling is not a thing here. More on this topic will follow, so stay tuned!
Our hike started from the 'Jesus Cave', which for centuries was used as an olive press. It is said that Jesus and his disciples spent some time there while hiding from Herod. Who knows? We continued to the ruins of an old church, where some of the mosaics were still visible. Our main part of the hike was descending into Wadi Seer, a dry canyon leading towards the valley of river Jordan. The weather was amazing, and in the wadi I could hike in a t-shirt.
After the wadi we stepped into open air, and made our final descent in stony, rugged terrain till the ruins of an old Roman city of Pella. Not much was left of that city, but it used to be a part of Decapolis, group of then cities on the East side of Jordan river. I already wrote about another city of Decapolis, Gerasa, in my previous post.
Enjoy the gorgeous views of the hike in the gallery below!
What kind of music comes to your mind, when you think about the Middle East? Probably you thought about traditional music (the Finns thought about Niilin hanhet or something). However, as magnificent that tradition is, including singers like Umm Kalthoum and Fayroz, there are many emerging talents using different styles, combining them in different ways, and using music as a way of activism and conveying political messages. Especially during the revolutions of 2011, music became a strong force of carrying hopes, fears, and resistance. But also sometimes it's just all about feel-good atmosphere.
These are songs I have been listening to lately, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Bonus round: Lebanese jazz
These random adventures can be very small, though. I’m a big fan of calling everything that is even slightly different from normal work routines 'an adventure'. So my last Friday was definitely an adventure, though it started as a casual late breakfast plan with a friend.
We headed off to wash his car (I know, so exciting!), but ended up driving around Western Amman, peeking at the lives of the rich and famous, seeking for the best view, spending a silent moment at a shrine, and finding out that the small retro car was only meant for children. Oops. Western Amman is a bit more scarcely populated and has a spacious and green flair. No wonder most of the houses there are big, fancy and especially pretty. On one hill the community had built only one entrance. That’s real exclusivity.
Driving on. On the side of the road, I spotted a sign. The shrine of the ‘venerable’ companion of the Prophet. (I also learned that venerable means honorable). We drove on to a small, blue-domed white shrine on the side of a hill. It was very plain, both outside and inside, but it marked the place of Bilal bin Rabah, the one who made the first call to prayer and served as prophet Muhammad’s muezzin. Pretty amazing to stand there, by the man whose words we hear multiple times a day (or before the sunrise too, and that is not always a pleasure to wake up for). Though some say Bilal’s real grave is in Damascus. Who knows. The idea is still there. Same case with so many places here in the Holy Land.
The day was not over, though. After a perfect lunch in Dabuq, we headed to the king Hussein mosque. I’m just letting the pictures to tell their story, it was truly a magical place with harmonious colors and atmosphere.
Our little spontaneous adventure ended in the Royal Automobile Museum. Vintage cars, awesome, right? We took some poses with the retro car, only to find out afterward, that it was meant for children only. Oh well, we all do have an inner child.
As it turns out, with the right company, any day can turn into a series of spontaneous decisions, leading you to wonderful and random places. And this also makes a nice, silly story.