After two days in Wadi Musa we are on the road again. We are heading to Madaba which is only an hours ride south of Amman and close to quite a list of biblical places.
The drive there will take us most of the day, and on the way we will get the chance of a few hours to explore the Temple Knights castle of Kerak.
I can’t wait to explore Kerak and I must admit that in anticipation of our trip I have re-read Jan Guillou’s amazing trilogy about Arn Magnusson, Knight Templar.
Jordan is dry and with little vegetation as we drive up the Kings Highway. All the houses which we pass seem unfinished with metal sticks on the roof as if the Jordanians are all planning to attach another floor to their home – hoping to build higher and larger.
On the side of the highway families are picnicking as if they couldn’t find a more calm and beautiful area than the roadside. Garbage is scattered across the sides of the road either as leftovers from the picnics or from people hurdling it out as they drive by.
In an odd way it seems as if they do not appreciate their country and their surroundings. They are not looking for a beautiful spot in nature to enjoy the family lunch, rather they settle with the dusty road where others pass by in fast succession. They do not see the ugliness of the garbage and constrict themselves to use trash cans – if there are any – or collect it.
But I know they are proud and I know they care for their country. I just think their priorities are different and their information on environmental hazards and pollution limited. And while I hope they will continue to picnic at the side of the road for years to come, I also hope that they will change their practices when it comes to garbage.
Al-Karak is central in Jordan and has had an important historical significance in the region. It is placed on the old caravan route between Damascus and Egypt and the pilgrimage route from Damascus to Mecca.
While the crusaders were only in Kerak for 46 years their imprint on the city is still daunting today. The castle is majestically raised above the rest of the landscape as if on a cliff. It has a dramatic effect on even the most hardened people driving through the city. All I can compare it to is the feeling of driving through the Alps in Austria, constantly craning ones neck gazing upwards.
Our driver takes us to his friends restaurant not far from the castle. While he stays enjoying the time with good food and friendly conversation, we walk up another street to the entrance of the castle, only to realize that we have no money.
Thus, we spend the first 20 minutes figuring out how to get cash for the entrance fee. It feels pretty ridiculous since we only need 1 JD each, but having to pay for our lunch later we run crazily through desolate streets near the entrance looking for anything resembling an ATM.
Despite our lack of monetary planning, we finally get inside the castle. It is huge and it is amazing to think that almost 900 years ago second sons of French and English noblemen ran around in the armour of the Knights Templar. To think that Saladin himself has held the castle under siege. I can’t imagine anyone penetrating the massive walls of the castle as they drop far below us.
After what seems like a long hide-and-seek game where my boyfriend and I constantly find ourselves lost in the grounds of the massive structure, we head back to the restaurant where lunch awaits us. After having been feed up with falafel and hummus, we decide to repeat the success from Wadi Musa and order Mansaf.
Mansaf is the national dish in Jordan. It is made of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yoghurt called Jameed and served with rice or bulgur.
On the road again
After lunch we drive north again on the old Kings Highway. Our driver is a kind man and he stops several times on the road for us to enjoy the view of the hilly landscape. The road circles up and down the mountainsides as a snake. It seems like it will never end. We stop at Wadi Mujib for pictures and a breath of cooler air.
Finally, after what seems an eternity we drive back into civilization and the landscape becomes dotted with human life.
We have arrived in Madaba, city of Mosaics.