Readers Corner

The Magical Kingdom of Jordan Part 2

Oct 28, 2021

In a continuing series on my trip to Jordan, this post covers many short but really impactful moments on my trip. Hope you enjoy the longer than normal read.

JERASH

About an hour’s drive outside of Amman is an incredibly old, historic, and beautiful place - the city of Jerash. It is one of the most intact Roman ruins in the world. As my architect friend who traveled with me said, “Why doesn’t the whole world know about this?”

Jerash was continuously occupied since the Bronze Age. It was finally an earthquake that ran the inhabitants out. The ancient city was (and still is, in parts) buried under the shifting sands of this part of the world. What has been uncovered is simply stunning. I have been to Rome and other Roman ruins around the globe but this place knocked my socks off. From the pillars of the Oval Forum (pictured above) to the South Theater, it is jaw dropping in it’s architectural wonder and intactness.

One starts at Hadrian’s Arch but that was not even the entrance to the city. Intricately carved, it stands at the entrance that all visitors take now. And then it goes on and on and on from there. My travels were a work trip so we did not have enough time to visit the entire city but I am so looking forward to returning to Jerash and spending a day there. And I will bring my good camera (and better photographic skills) as this is a photographer’s dream. Mosaics, angles, arches, blue skies. It was hard to get a bad shot.

There is just something about being in a place that is so old that stirs my soul. The history, the stories, the lives lived there.

Photo Credit: Zeina Kassem


Interestingly enough, I was at Jerash on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. As this event was a painful moment for me and my family and friends personally, I had told a friend that I was happy to be away from the States and not have to relive that day. But I had never thought about what it would be like to be away and in a Muslim country for this anniversary.

As I wandered the Oval Forum, a friend and I could hear the sweet strains of “Amazing Grace” being played on bagpipes on this painful but reverent day for us.

In Jordan. A Christian song. On Bagpipes. On 9/11. Playing the sweet song I sang to my kids every night before they went to bed. When I say there was magic that happened, I mean it.

My friend who was traveling with me (not pictured above though she is a friend!) heard it and said “They are playing this for 9/11. Maybe not but that is the way I hear it”. Beautiful words for a beautiful moment.

They made our day but, I promise, if you visit, you will also hear the sweet strains of bagpipes in Jerash. They were ruled by the Brits for a long time so bagpipes (though a different version) have made it into Jordanian culture. It is one of the traits I love about Jordan - they have taken centuries of lemons and made the sweetest lemonade.

I will just take the magic of Bedouin men playing that song so special to me on that day in that place. Sometimes you just have to grab the magic of it all.

The South Theater, where you will find the bagpipe guys, is a 3000-seat open theater used for events and performances, still to this day. There is a spot in the middle of the stage where you can stand and, speaking in a quiet voice, your words can be heard all the way at the top of the theater. Very cool engineering marvel.

Photo Credit: Zeina Kassem


I promise you, there will not be a post about Jordan anywhere in my life that will not mention food because … fabulous.

In Jerash, we had a dish that has been made the same way for centuries. The meat and rice portion was cooked in a huge pan then turned over in a ceremonious “whomp” … all intact on a huge platter! But I loved the sauces and veg. Cooked in clay pots over coals coated in salt. And turned upside down to empty with two forks. Look at that photo above. Oh, for that level of cooking skills and coordination.

Oh, my, Jerash should have had it’s own post but then the series would have been so long. Did I tell you I LOVE Jordan. Yes, think I have. But there’s more …