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January 1, 2017

Breakfast in bed was the way to go at The Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea.  The food service was far faster, though we ended up with two pepper shakers instead of salt and pepper for our eggs.

Suman and I were anxious to get down to the sea, though we waited patiently for the outside temperature to warm up to at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit as yesterday, 50 degrees was cold!  As we followed the stairs down to the one of saltiest bodies of water in the world, we were greeted with a reasonable temperature, a virtually an empty beach, and placid seas!

We carefully stepped on the rocks as we entered the sea and then floated on our backs to take advantage of its 34.2% salinity.  If only the triathlon I entered was here.  The salt definitely would keep me afloat!  I just wouldn’t be able to shave as the salinity certainly makes swimmers notice cuts they never knew existed.  In fact, the Dead Sea is so salty that plants and animals cannot survive, thus the name.  Only some micro-organisms can live in the harsh environment. Perhaps that is what makes its mud so special.  It is rumored to be an excellent beauty product.

Once we got used to it, both the sea and air temperature was nice.  In fact, with the sun and no wind, this morning felt warmer than yesterday so we soaked in a few rays as we dried off.  The desert sun is strong, we felt our skin burning in less than 30 minutes.

It was time to check out, and as usual the Jordanians wanted to make sure we loved our stay.  They are the nicest people and really want visitors to come see their amazing country.  I have to say, we felt safe the whole time and were treated like royalty.  The staff asked us if we would fill out a comment card, but none of us really felt like doing it.  This really stressed them out.  They thought for sure we did not enjoy our stay.  No matter how much we assured them everything was fine, they went and got the manager!  He wanted to know if something was wrong.  Suman, Syreeta, and Margaret once again confirmed our nice stay.  I could tell, however, this was not going to be satisfying to them since we didn’t fill out the comment card, so I just suggested to speed up the food service.  Point noted and we could go!

Our next destination was Mt. Nebo.  We found the highway and came across another check point.  We expected to say hi and keep going…not so.  We were shocked when we had to whip out our passports! After he looked at each passport and handed them back individually to the wrong person we drove up another steep, winding road.

Soon, we reached the place where Moses is thought to be buried.  After paying 2JD, we took a short walk up to the summit where a grave stone marks Moses’ grave.  We enjoyed a lovely view, visited the church and the small museum before we returned to the car to visit our last place in Jordan before we had to return to Amman for our 2am flight.

Our last place in Jordan was the City of Madaba.  The city was much larger than we expected, and Suman did a great job driving with the busy traffic.  We circled a few times until we found a parking spot just a few block from Haret Jdoudna, an excellent restaurant.  Its location is in a restored, old house that creates a lovely atmosphere.  The food may have been the best we had while in Jordan.  Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs as we filled the table with several “small (yet filling) plates.”

Madaba is known for its mosaics.  We paid 1JD to visit St. George’s Church, home to the oldest map of Palestine in the world.  It was discovered beneath rubble in 1884 when a Greek Orthodox Church was being constructed on the site of an old Byzantine church.  The mosaic map covered a portion of the church’s floor.

After visiting the church, we went souvenir shopping as Madaba is also known for good prices.  Being in Jordan during the low season made the prices even better.  Everything was on sale!  Merchants were so nice and invited us in their stores to see their wares.

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Soon it was time to make the hour drive back to Jordan to drop off our car.  The rental car agent transported us to our hotel for 20JD, but along the way we basically got a tour.  In fact, he passed our hotel (Syreeta and Margaret booked an extra day in Amman), went through each numbered round-about and pointed out each area of town before dropping us at a really nice Hyatt.  We had planned to go out for the best falafel in town at Hashem Restaurant.  This is according to the guide book, my next-door neighbor, and the rental car guy.  Unfortunately, we ate so much at lunch we were too full and as time went by we were too tired.  We just hung out at the lounge at the Hyatt until it was time for Suman and me to leave.

Our flights home were much smoother than our flights going.  We only had one delay…our last flight from Canada.  I am only mentioning it because I joked to Suman, “Hopefully no one will want to get off the plane like they did in Houston.”  Low and behold, the captain announced on the speaker, “We are missing a passenger, so we have to sort through the checked bags.”  Seriously?!?  What are the odds of that happening twice in one trip?  Canada handled it faster than the USA though.  We were only an hour delayed out of Toronto rather than 3.5 hours on our flight out of Houston.  We had an awesome trip, I highly recommend visiting this wonderful country.  Stay tuned…Next stop, Cuba! ETB

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