I decided I didn’t want to pay unreasonable amounts of money to have someone drive me around, and I also didn’t want to sit two full days in a hotel room. Instead, I took a public bus to Amman from Petra, jumped off at the turnoff for the airport, got a lift from a kind stranger for the last few kilometers and rented a car for my last two days. For less then what two few-hour excursions would cost, for a driver with car.
My first stop was Um er-Rasas, one of Jordan’s World Heritage Sites, a multi layered cake of historical proportions, on a civilisational level.
The site includes the ruins of no less than 14 churches as well as an impressive ensemble of mosaics. But, sadly, most of the site is just rubble, and deserted.
Nearby the main site is a tower, or pillar, or column, with no staircase and a few windows at what appears to be a crumbled room at the top. Consensus is that this is an ascetic’s tower.
In the first few hundred years after Christianity had started to spread in the Middle East, it was not uncommon for aspiring holy men, ascetics, to live their lives, for decades, sometimes, at the top of a free standing column. Appropriately, they were called Stylites, after the Greek for ‘pillar dweller’.
Also nearby the remains of a long contested fortress town, with stunning views of ‘Jordan’s Grand Canyon’, below.
Then I drove to Kerak, home to an impressive Crusader castle. But not before stopping at a viewpoint overlooking that Grand Canyon, where two Jack Sparrows, that is, Bedouin, where selling tea and coffee.
We sat down and had a lovely chat, and I think I managed to get over the awkwardness of being surrounded by copies of Jack Sparrow, and talking to them.