|This morning we headed back to Mt Nebo to have a better look at the mosaics. We were also hoping that the view of the Promised Land would be clearer in the morning but unfortunately it was still very hazy.
We then visited St. George's church in Madaba. In 1884 a mosaic on the church floor was uncovered which showed a map of all biblical sites from Lebanon to Egypt and down to the Mediterranean. It was constructed around AD560 and is thought to have measured 15m by 6m. Only part now remains but you could clearly see Jordan, the Dead Sea and Jerusalem. I especially like the fish which is swimming back up the Jordan river after apparently tasting the water in the Dead Sea and finding it unpalatable!
It was then back on our bus for a long drive along the Kings Highway. This is a very historical road and traverses the Wadi Mujib which is also known as the 'Grand Canyon of Jordan'. Unfortunately it's 'picturesque' nature means it is very windy with lots of hairpin turns and steep drop-offs leaving quite a few of us a bit green round the gills and Sue (suffers from vertigo) very pale!
For the last part of our journey we were transferred into a small run down little bus and were bumped along a rough track for half an hour to the start point of our hike. We were in the little known Wadi Ibn Hammad which is a sandstone gorge fed by warm springs. We had been expecting to be wading through water in places but weren't prepared for the reality - there had been heavy rains the week before and in places the water was neck deep!
The water was gloriously warm though and the Wadi was so pretty with multicoloured walls due to iron and copper minerals and plants and trees growing on the gorge walls and hanging down. It was great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed the hike although keeping our cameras dry whist sliding down waterfalls was a challenge. Audrey slipped and got completely soaked camera and all! I think was all ended up with a few scrapes and bruises but I was disappointed when Abdul announced it was time to turn around and head back. I think the whole group would have liked to have hiked the length of the gorge which ends near the Dead Sea.
Back at the start point we were invited to swim in the mineral pool currently under construction. It was lovely - the water was so hot! A few of us had problems getting out though as the pool was quite deep and no steps or ladder have been built yet!! All in all it was a lovely spot and quite remote. I think it may change in the next few years though as a spa is obviously being built around the hot spring which will bring many more visitors. I'm glad I had the opportunity to see it whilst still relatively quiet and unspoilt.
After a bumpy ride back to the main road we were taken to a restaurant to change out of our sopping wet clothes and have some lunch (finally - it was 3pm by this time and we were all fainting with hunger!).
Back aboard our big bus we then turned off the Kings Highway to join the Desert highway as it was getting dark and we had a long way to go (the Desert highway is wider and straighter and hence much faster). A couple of hours later we disembarked and had a short walk to our camp in Petra.
The camp consisted of one large Bedouin tent, a flush toilet and water tank with tap to wash at. There were mats to make a sitting area and a fire. Some of us decided to sleep out under the stars and as soon as we had sorted our beds out (foam mat and sleeping bag) dinner was served. As it was only 3 hours since we'd eaten a huge lunch none of us could eat much and we hoped that we hadn't offended our Bedouin hosts! After dinner we sat around the camp fire drinking tea whilst Abdul told us a little about Jordanian life past and present.