DAY SIX: In the words of Willie Nelson: “On the Road Again”
Despite our good intentions, sleep deprivation set in yesterday. We can no longer serve two masters…sleep will win every time. With only what can be described as a two hour cat nap the night before, and most of the day riding on a tiny busy, we were beyond thrilled to reach the Movenpick Hotel in Petra. Arriving around 9:00 that night, we ate a quick dinner and rushed upstairs to find a spacious room. There may not have been air conditioning or hot water, but there WERE two comfy beds and they were calling our names. In Arabic.
NJO won the denari toss (she called camel, Lincee called oil lamp) and showered first, while Lincee attempted to gain Internet access for blogging. By the time NJO was done, we were still NOT online. It was at that moment that we made an executive decision to opt out of the recap. The world will just have to wait. We were so happy, we almost cried. When Lincee returned from her shower, Nancy Jane was on her bed with Arabic sub-titled Seinfeld playing. However, she was not only dead to the world, but also contorted in the most UNCOMFORTABLE sleeping position known to man. Oh well! Lights out.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Day six started extremely early. Groggy from our power nap, we headed to the bus and made our way to the Jordanian border, passing by the West Bank. It was at this point that Ruti presented her manifesto on Arabic politics. We believe the words out of her mouth were, “There are plenty of Arab countries. They should just go back to one of those.”
On a serious note, it really brings it home how personally affected these people are by the constant conflict that has been raging for years in one form or another. It’s easy to spout off our opinions of how peace accords should be handled, but fact of the matter is that the situation is extremely complex and there appears to be no easy answer to the problem.
Stopping at the Jordanian border, we realized we were leaving Ruti for the next 48 hours. Since she is an Israeli tour guide, she is prohibited by law to work in Jordan, but assured us that the gentlemen we were being passed on to were the best Jordan had to offer, but asked us to keep in mind that they were Arabs and she is Ruti. She discouraged us from spending any money in Jordan, noting that the more money we spend in Israel, the more F15’s her country can buy from the USA.
Nearing the Jordanian border was like closing ceremonies at camp. We were devastated to leave Ruti, our favorite camp counselor, and a little nervous that the first Jordanians we saw were two 16-year-olds with machine guns. To commemorate this most auspicious occasion, we serenaded Ruti with a “Happy Trails” sendoff. She obliged us and even acted like she knew the words of the song. Ruti really DOES know everything. I’m sure the sight of two Texas girls swaying in unison with an Israeli tour guide in the middle of the Tourist Police office was a high hit blog for some Arab guy’s website www.ihatestupidamericans.com.
Much to our pleasant surprise, was the fact that our Jordanian tour guide, Naiheim (pronounced Nah-heem) had a sense of humor, was quite knowledgeable and LOVED our group. He said that getting lunch was first priority which was music to our ears since the last thing we’d consumed was a saltwater and “mud” cocktail from the Dead Sea. The bus stopped in the middle of a rural village right outside the border. In sharp contrast to our previous tour guide, we’re pretty sure Naiheim is not related to the shop keep and has no stock holdings in the village gift shop.
Directly outside the door of our bus was the most interesting sight of the day so far. Sweet little goats were walking around in front of the carniceria, tethered to a nearby tree. Looking beyond the sweet little goats were more goats. These were sweet little goat carcasses hanging in the shop window available for purchase.
We were hoping goat tartar was not on the menu.
Thankfully, Naiheim returned with the motherlode of Jordanian fruit production. A bushel of bananas (without the blue bags), peaches, hot pita bread and goat cheese we think is from the sweet little goats. The best meal we’ve had so far.
Our first stop with Naiheim was Mt. Nebo where Moses viewed the Holy Land just prior to his death. It was absolutely surreal to look out into what we know was the Holy Land. (Deuteronomy 34:1-4) It truly was The Promised Land, exactly as God promised, the only green spot in the middle of the desert. It’s amazing to see the fulfillment of God’s promises even thousands of years later.
It was also amazing to see that the physical manifestation of the law that says, “All tour guides must answer their cell phones during prayers and/or devotionals.” Naiheim must have received a call from his wife, brother and Cousin Abdula at least six times during our prayer on Mt. Nebo.
While Naiheim’s family might not have owned the village lunch stop, they did own the mosaic tile shop we were forced to tour. Great concept—total waste of time. They were charging thousands of dollars for mosaic beer coasters and Apostolic table tops. Nancy Jane had to sneak out of the store to avoid purchasing the Jericho Tree of Life from the owner. All she did was say, “That’s nice” and there were four salesmen on her like white on rice (Israeli on hummus) negotiating down from $2,000 to $1,800. Nancy Jane faked a phone call from her imaginary husband and told the salesmen that he would kill her if she brought home one more mosaic. NO MORE WALL SPACE!
We went from the frying pan into the fire of tourist obligations when we stopped in Madaba, which is supposedly the home of Ruth. It’s more like a Jordanian Navasota, complete with low rider cars, hoodlum kids and more than likely a sub-par football (soccer) team. We didn’t see a Sonic. We filed into a construction trailer with 7,000 chairs and four couches in order to better educate ourselves on the intricate workings of the first map of the Holy Land, which just so happens to be a mosaic. Ironically, Nancy Jane owns an exact replica of this piece de resistance. It hangs in her fake River Oaks mansion and her imaginary husband despises it.
The next place we visited is referenced in Mark 6 as the palace of Herod of Antipas where John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded. In order to see the palace and prison, however, we had a 78 mile walk up 867 steps at a 97 degree incline in 197 degree weather. We failed to bring our water. Halfway up the mountain, a nice couple from the other church offered us their water. We must have really looked like sweet little goat carcasses hanging in a window. We thankfully took their gift and in return, Nancy Jane offered to name her first born child after Kimberly…the Goddess of Water.
We arrived at the apex of the mountain to be rewarded by a Vegas-style show, performed by our fearless head honcho leader. He proceeded to re-enact the belly dance performed by Herodias’ daughter that inevitably enticed Herod to behead John the Baptist. A video was confiscated by the Jordanian Police.
While we might have wanted to stay and dance the night away, we had a three hour drive to Petra ahead of us. Naiheim kept us enthralled the first hour with statistics about his country. Jordan is 85% Muslim and 95% of these Muslims are Sunni. Fifteen percent are Christian. According to Naiheim, it is a crime to be an atheist, punishable by life in prison. A person must be a member of one of the faiths mentioned in the Holy Book: Judaism, Islam or Christianity.
Speaking of the Holy Book, we’ve both been convicted, yet again by our tour guides’ knowledge of our Bible. They believe it is a wonderful story, yet have committed the entire book to memory. We are taking this as a call to action and will be holding each other accountable to the understanding and memorization of Scripture. This is not from a legalistic viewpoint, but of a true desire to know and understand the Word.
Naiheim graciously gave us permission to sleep for the next two hours. But instead, we had a good old fashioned American Band Stand. What started out as Lincee dj’ing from her i-Pod, ended up as an all out sing-a-long. Scott busted out his guitar. Judy busted out the praise and worship requests. Angela busted out the camera. And we both raised the roof with a rendition of Kum-Bah-Yah, complete with the creation of spontaneous verses harkening back to our days at Nazareth Village. Think: “There’s a coney, Lord…kum-bah-yah…”
As we ended our sing-a-long, Naiheim welcomed us to Petra and our luxurious five-star-hotel where we passed our luggage through XRAY machines, walked through metal detectors, were greeted by teenagers with machine guns, selected for mandatory retinal scans, fingerprinted, and sent to the side of the dining hall where unclean/unshowered Gentiles must sit. We were allowed to eat for 17 minutes and then ushered up to our rooms by armed guards singing, “Hail King Hussein of Jordan.”
What a day. What a night. What an adventure.
Peace be upon you.
Cliff Notes Version: cat napping, border crossing, good bye saying, Happy Trails singing, mountain climbing, sweating, water drinking, child naming, belly dancing, not mosaic buying, imaginary husband creating, kum-bah-yahing, arriving, contorting, crashing
The Ruti Recap: Aside from our historical education and getting her to say, “My voice is lower than the Dead Sea” yet again, our time with Ruti was trunicated. Therefore, you will have to stay tuned for the next 48 hours. We don’t feel it is in our best interest or a wish of the Israeli procurement department, to allow our allegiances to be anywhere else but with Ruti. Thus will not do the Naiheim Newsflash. It is JerUSAlem after all. We will remain loyal to Ruti