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Sunday, June 25, 2017

DAY 14 - Kerak Castle to the Canyon to the Dead Sea

Climbing & Swimming with the Dead on Good Friday!

I'm ready for the day!
Today we're off on more adventures in the country of Jordan.  First stop....Bathroom break and shopping!

Jordan is popular for Nabataean-style pottery and silverware, largely prepared by the local Bedouin population.

Also renowned for its handmade products like carpets, mosaics and tapestries.

One of the tourists trying on face garb

My first glance at Kerak Castle south of Madaba on the old King's highway

Kerak Castle is a large Crusader castle located in al-Karak, Jordan. It is one of the largest crusader castles in the Levant. Construction of the castle began in the 1140s, under Pagan and Fulk, King of Jerusalem.
View from the top - definitely overlooking the city!

 Crusader - 1142-1188 AD
Mamluk  - 1263-1517 AD

The two main building phases covered a span of 350 years.

The castle was built on two main levels.

It's a little chilly up here - brrr!  Great view, though!

Here we go - exploring the lower floor and feeling all the spirits who have been here!

Another view of the new city, but note some other ruins across the way.

Cats seem to gravitate to me!

Oh to be a princess of the beautiful castle 800 years ago!

Our guide knows so much and was very interesting!

Kerak Castle is a typical example of Crusader architecture, with Romanesque-style stone vaults, numerous corridors, and strong doorways. The Crusader parts of the ruins are mostly on the upper level and can be identified by their dark volcanic tufa; later Arab additions are in white limestone.
Through a massive door, steps lead down to vast, dimly-lit, vaulted rooms and corridors underground.
The upper courtyard includes the remains of a Crusader chapel and provides excellent views over the Jordanian landscape to the Dead Sea.
Note the different types of masonry and rock architecture.  It depicts the various peoples who helped with construction.

Into the caves and cells where the prisoners were locked up!  SCARY!

 In the Book of Kings (16:9) and Book of Amos (1:5, 9:7), Kerak is mentioned as the place where the Syrians went before they settled in the regions in the northern of Levant, and to which Tiglath-Pileser III sent the prisoners after the conquest of Damascus.

OH!  If only these walls could talk!!

Each cell had a bit of light above them from the room higher floor.

I'm on the 2nd floor, looking down into the lower level.

On December 18, 2016, the castle was the site of a terrorist attack. Ten people were killed and 34 were injured, the majority being Jordanian security forces and local civilians.  WHEW!  That was only 3 months ago!

Even here, everyone has cell phones!

SUCH narrow streets - our bus driver managed very well, however!

SHOES!  Shoes for sale!!

Many have no jobs!
 Approximately 15 percent of the Jordanian population of 5 million live below the poverty line and up to two-thirds of these poor people are concentrated in urban areas. According to the World Bank, 17 percent of Jordanian children are malnourished, the infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births is high at 31, and 11 percent of the population does not have access to safe drinking water.

UP!  UP!  We go to Wadi-Mujib!!

Along the way, we see many Bedouin camps.

 Some photos of the Dead Sea along the way.  It is losing 3 feet of water every year, so it it is predicted to be all dried up in 7 years.  WOW!  Am I lucky to have seen it it.  AND I get to swim in it twice!

This was all under water not too long ago.  VERY sad!

  The Mujib Reserve of Wadi Mujib is located in the mountainous landscape to the east of the Dead Sea, in the southern part of Jordan Valley, about 60 miles south of Amman.

This is the deep sandstone gorge of the Wadi Mujib, Jordan's most spectacular river canyon.

During the last Ice Age the water level of the Dead Sea reached about 600 feet below sea level, about 800 feet higher than it is today. It flooded the lower areas of the canyons along its banks, which became bays and begun to accumulate sediments. As the climatic conditions changed, the water level of the lake dropped, leaving the canyons blocked.  Most canyons managed to cut through their plugged outlets and to resume their lower courses. However, Wadi Mujib, abandoned its former outlet by breaking through a cleft in the sandstone. This narrow cleft became the bottleneck of an enormous drainage basin with a huge discharge. During the years the cleft was scoured deeper and the gorge of Wadi Mujib was formed.

We only stopped here for a few minutes, but it was gorgeous!

Another glance of the Dead Sea

Wadi Mujib, the biblical Arnon stream, has always been an important boundary-line. According to the Pentateuch, it once separated the Moabites from the Amorites (Numbers 21:13-26)

Many have stopped to swim in the sea, but it is pretty chilly!

Natives come to float and swim in  the salty Dead Sea

Having a picnic is a common site, too

Bethany Beyond the Jordan

 Many churches are being built here.  They are relatively new, since this area used to be inaccessible to tourists.  Plans are for many other churches in the near future.

Because large quantities of water are taken from the sources of the Jordan by the countries of Israel and Jordan, the river today is a small, winding, dirty stream that makes its way to the Dead Sea. 

 According to the King James Version of the Bible and other ancient texts and manuscripts, "Bethabara is the" place where John the Baptist baptized those who came to hear him preach. The word only appears once in the New Testament at John 1:28.  However, the same verse in the various revised editions reads "Bethany."

"Shall we gather at the river - the beautiful, the beautiful river!!"  ( is murky, muddy, oily, and getting narrower every year, but oh - to be here is wonderful!)

"Jesus came to John the Baptist, in Judea, long ago.  And was baptized by immersion in the River Jordan's flow."

  It's definitely warmed up as we get to our final destination, a fabulous 5 star Hotel - the Marriott!

We all enjoy a glass of passion fruit juice - it tastes so good!

Gorgeous flowers and chandeliers - the lobby is WOW!!

And pools galore!  One for the kids!

One for looks!
....... and MORE!!

I'm on my way down down down to the Dead Sea!

And there's still a ways to go!

Pretty flowers adorn the pathway.

Now this is what I came for!


Now this is the life!
Tanning and letting the paste set on my skin

This is where you get the muddy paste with amazing minerals and SO GOOD for the skin!

I think I'll come here again tomorrow!

On my way to my room

Ahh!  Does this look inviting!  What a stay we're having here!

A little TV and news to catch up on!  Night!

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