Returning to our normal lives in North America after an IFWTWA press trip through the country of Jordan in the Middle East is difficult. Especially when we’ve spent days immersing ourselves in a country rich in tradition and culture, fascinating Unesco World Heritage Sites, archaeological ruins, historic biblical sites, tantalising food, and the warmest most welcoming people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.
Not ready to give up that Jordanian feeling just yet, I reached out to my fellow travel writers on this trip to ask them the question, “What was your most memorable moment in Jordan?” Here is the result.
My most special Jordan memory were the quiet moments sitting outside in the Bedouin desert camp before the day began. It was so quiet and still. I could hear myself breathe as I gazed upon the massive mountains overhead, thinking of their long and storied history of wind, rain and sand. This majestic scene will stay etched in my mind forever.
— Mira Temkin, miratemkintravel.com
Waking up at 4:30 am in my luxurious desert ‘tent’ surrounded by vast, yet breathtaking canyons was something that I needed to see, to remind myself that I wasn’t dreaming. The memory of waking up that early, to make sure that I would have the rare opportunity to watch the sunrise as it started lifting among the sandstone canyons was surreal! And if that wasn’t enough, this beautiful scenery was accentuated by the fact that I was traveling by camel to catch such magnificence, as the sun painted the sky with its radiance. Words cannot do justice in describing Jordan’s beauty, the feeling that it conjures and the mysterious hold that it has on you. Jordan is something that you have to experience for yourself, at least once in your life!
— Brigitte Hasbron, thefoodtease.com
My Wednesday of Wonders:
While the entire experience was rich with many diverse experiences, this 24-hour period will be imprinted in my travel memories forever. Picture this day…Waking up in a Bedouin Camp to take a sunrise camel ride in Wadi Rum desert. Staggeringly beautiful and peaceful. Within a few hours, we proceed to enjoy a luncheon snorkel cruise on the Red Sea overlooking the shores of Aqaba with Egypt and Israel in view across the sparkling waters. As a finale, we had the pleasure of dining al fresco on local Jordanian delights at the luxurious seaside Kempinski Hotel Aqaba. These are just a few examples of the rich and diverse experiences shared with my new IFWTWA and JTB friends. An experience to be remembered and treasured for a lifetime.
— Joy Steinberg, givejoy.me
Snorkeling in the Red Sea:
Spending 10 days in Jordan, every day brought something special. From the people, we met along the way to the diverse experiences that are uniquely Jordan. I have to say, snorkeling in the Red Sea off the coast of Aqaba was a pretty special experience. With Egypt and Israel in the far distance, we cruised along the coast to a spot with a beautiful reef and entered the warm water where we swam among eels, brightly colored coral and plenty of tropical fish.
— Beth Graham, momuncorked.com
I’ve driven past the tea man at this intersection in Amman three times now, and every time I try to get his picture, but there’s too much traffic blocking him. He sees me each time, smiles and waves. His copper teapot is almost as tall as me and is supported by a thick, leather shoulder strap. The tea man’s red cap is a bold contrast to his white shirt and black vest, but not to the colourful flowers that adorn the teapot’s decorative appendages. Today when I arrive at the intersection, the traffic light is red and the tea man beelines across three lanes of traffic to my window. He pours me a refreshing drink that turns out to be a cold, sweet and pomegranate. We’ve waited so long for this moment!
— Elizabeth Willoughby, writeshots.com
Despite my age, I love adventure. My Jordan Journey was filled with adventurous activities like riding camels, night hikes and mud baths. However, I will never forget the seemingly death-defying donkey ride up the steep incline with sharp turns to the Monastery at Petra. John’s mule and my donkey were battling for leader of the pack status, making the start of the journey even more treacherous. Shall I say nerve-wracking? When my donkey cobbled up the first flight of some 900 stairs, I hung on for dear life. But, fear gave way to sheer joy as I heard those behind me clearly having the thrill of their day. Petra easily ranks as my most favorite place in the world, and I doubt that even the hardest-to-please visitor will find this unique, archaeological wonder less than captivating. Just back, I am already looking forward to returning for another Jordan Journey.
— Debi Lander, bylandersea.com
We were in a village just down the hill from Umm Qay, and as on most evenings, the local men were sitting on the side of the road drinking tea and talking. Suddenly, the oldest member of the group—gray beard, long, gray thawb (robe) and a tagiyah (round cap) on his head—crossed the street, shuffling but purposeful. He came up to me, looked me in the eyes seriously, then stuck out his hand and smiled. We shook heartily. I can’t imagine a warmer welcome.
— John Owens, John Owens Travel
Jordan memories come to me in waves. Face after face materializes – the Bedouin toddler playing with my pen in her tent, an apprentice Bee-keeper, the woman showing me how to stuff eggplant, our guide eloquently describing the ancient water system in Petra, a young woman explaining mosaic art at a shop outside of Magada. The flashes kept appearing but didn’t coalesce until I got home. In San Francisco, the Uber driver taking me across town was from Jordan. He spoke about growing up in Amman and how much he misses his country. In the US, even with a recent MBA, he drives most nights to pay bills. It’s a livelihood he couldn’t make at home. As I stepped out of the car, I said ‘Shukran.’ His smile lit up the night and my heart. It was the same smile I met again and again across Jordan.
— Elaine Masters, tripwellgal.com
As the sun set over the columns of the ancient Roman hill city of Jerash, lights flickered on in houses covering nearby hillsides and the call to prayer swelled up from a mosque. The sound touched that deep part of me that craves faith, ritual and connection to something greater. Even though I practice a different religion, my feet started leading me towards the song. Just then a policeman popped up, asking my guide Ramzi if I was part of his group, and chiding us for still being at Jerash after closing time. Returned to the fold, we trudged toward the exit. I asked Ramzi if he’d get in trouble with God for working and not praying five times a day. He looked at me like I was nuts and told me God is merciful and can’t be angered by such things. He said he hopes to someday be a good Muslim and go to the mosque five times a day, that it would do his heart good. Between the sunset, beautiful ruins and soul-gripping chant, I felt that holistic merging of the material and divine, and agreed that more prayer would do my heart good as well.
— Teresa Bergen, teresabergen.com
It took me years to appreciate the pure beauty of the desert. Spending too many years thinking death awaited me if I lost my way. Exploring the desert in the softer light of fall lets my vision adjust and finally see the variations of color and texture that paint an epic landscape. As I hopped in the back of the Toyota Hilux 4×4, I let the moment settle upon me. I was exploring the same sand that people had explored for thousands of years before me. As a crossroads of civilization and trade, the Wadi Rum seemed to stretch to the edge of the earth. Our driver veered off the main road and the sand-scented air warmed my face. Sometimes I saw a pair of tracks in the sand then the ruts vanished since sand swallows everything in its path, including time. Cutting in-and-out of sandstone rock formations, the sun dipped closer to the horizon. As I spotted TE Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Lawrence of Arabia’s overture hummed louder in the back of my mind. At that moment, I knew my journey was larger than my own life. I was exploring for the people of my family’s past and for the family I had not met. Knowing that my children would tell their children how their mother had crossed the Wadi Rum when they were kids. My local Bedouin guide let air out of the tires to gain traction over the dunes. Gaining speed, our truck climbed a dune that looked like an insurmountable mountain. At the top, I scanned the desert below that resembled a sea of sesame seeds. As the sun inched closer to the horizon, we skidded down the backside of the dune to watch the sunset. As I unloaded from the back of the pickup, our guide pulled out some paper bags. Scooping up sand and shovelling it into each bag, he lined the bags in a semi-circle. Grabbing a stash of candles, he lit each one before placing it into its bag. As the sun burned into a glowing tangerine and the night sky faded to aubergine, the twinkling luminarias provided a path to the fledging ambers of light on the horizon. In that moment the daily ritual of the sunset burned into each of our memories as the best sunset, even surpassing the sunset viewed from the edge of an island.
— Catherine Parker, carfulofkids.com
My first sight of the Treasury of the Rose City of Petra as we walked through the narrow Al Siq canyon, the feeling of the warm Wadi Rum sand between my toes, my first dip into the salty waters of the Dead Sea; these “firsts” will stay with me forever. But my most cherished memory of my time in Jordan will always be the local people that we met throughout our journey. I’ll remember Yousef, the local beekeeper of Um Qais with the gentle soul and a love for bees that started when he was 12 years old. I’ll remember the shy but determined face of Alia, the master basket weaver with nimble fingers as she demonstrated her craft to us in her home. I’ll remember the infectious smile of Um Sulaiman in her kitchen as she taught us how to make bread and olive preserves, giggling with twinkling eyes when she showed us the freshly harvested grain drying on her roof embarrassed by her laundry hanging nearby. I’ll remember Suleiman our Bedouin guide and our desert walk through Wadi Feynan as he spoke with pride about his herd of over 100 goats. I’ll remember the Bedouin family who welcomed us into their humble tent to share a cup of freshly brewed cardamon coffee. I’ll remember our Jordanian Tourism Board guide Ramzi, a wealth of knowledge in all things Jordan, a consummate host, and a man adept at juggling two cell phones simultaneously while riding a donkey. These people are what make up my favourite memory of Jordan.
— Mary Chong, CalculatedTraveller.com
We were all guests of Jordan Tourism Board NA, all opinions are entirely our own.
Read more about Jordan:
– Jordan’s Food Mirrors It’s History