The most beautiful thing of sleeping in an Arab country is waking up at 6 am with the singing of the first pray of the day.
In every town, in every city, it sounds different, but all of the prays share that slow melody that fills you with inner peace, even for those who do not understand the verses, which are pure poetry.
After hearing it for the first time in Madaba, I found it really hard to come back to bed. Was just itching to get out and enjoy the smells, the ordered chaos (oddly enough, which for a Western is chaos, for Arabic is the natural flow of events, flow in that kind of synergy established in driving, in the market, etc.), and that sort of relaxing feeling despite the dirt and the sound of hundreds of horns filling the atmosphere.
That day the driver took me to Mount Nebo, from where you can see the Dead Sea, Jerusalem and Amman. While the driver was waiting for me outside at the parking place, a policeman accompanied me throughout my visit. He explained to me the whole history of the fountain of Moses, the stone in his memorial, and the tree that originally had three branches (each of them represented Christianity, Islam and Judaism), but the tree currently has only two branches (which one is missing is open to the imagination or willingness of the visitors). I told the policeman that the next day I would visit Wadi Musa and the day after Wadi Rum and then he offered to accompany me. I was not sure if I could trust him, but he wrote down my phone and my email and I gave to me his personal data, written on a postcard of Mount Nebo. He also gave me five postcards, a magnet and a stone. When I told him I had a boyfriend, to avoid any confussion, he still insisted on driving me to South Jordan and going out to dinner with me in Madaba. Then we stopped at the “wishing tree” – I asked for a wish and then I asked him why he did not think of one, and he repplied that “now” he did not believe in that tree anymore. When I concluded the circuit at Mount Nebo, the policeman promised to call me in the afternoon for dinner.
Back in the car, I explained to my driver what happened with the police and he was really surprised because the officers are not allowed to have any ‘unofficial’ relationship during their working hours. He said he had never heard anything like that before. We continued our route to the Dead Sea, on a serpentine road trough the desert. I left my bikini in the Hostel, so I had to buy another one, an “Arabic” one, for 20 Jordanian dinars. I went into the sea, and all my wounds started to sting me, they were burning due to the extreme salinity, nine times higher than any ocean in the world (though there are other lakes in the world with a higher level of salinity). The Dead Sea is the only one in the world which also is below the sea level, paradoxically, and its salinity causes an effect of surprising buoyancy. Due to its components, no living thing inhabits it, except Artemia, a genus of crustaceans whose size depends on the salt concentration of the water where it lives. The feeling of buoyancy is amazing, but not as much as I had imagined given the expectations that any tourist would have.
I took some photos to a Canadian girls and they did to me as well. When I left the water my wounds burnt and reddened. I took an “Arab” shower and then I relaxed in the pool to relieve the itching. I was peacefully reading and writing for some hours and I took some photos, which can be viewed clicking the following link.
After three or four hours relaxing and staring at the Israeli shore, I returned to Madaba . We spent several military checkpoints, with policemen carrying guns who asked us why we passed that close to the border of an Israel strategic point. It was 12 noon, and we began to hear the call to pray. The driver stopped at a mosque and asked me to wait for him ten minutes. I asked innocently if I could go with him, and he politely repply “It is not possible”, despite my lack of respect. Once he had finished the prayer, we headed back to the Christian city. On our way to Madaba, I was looking at the desert landscape, the iconic architecture and disastrous road pavement, and suddenly observed a group of children playing with stones. Suddenly, one of them lifted a metal tube, pointed towards our vehicle and just as we passed it, he shot a stone with that kind of homemade device. The stone hit the glass of my window, which cracked slightly. After the shock, the driver asked me if the glass damage was serious, and I said no. We did not say anything else.
Once in Madaba, we ate shawarma and visited the famous Christian church in the city, known for its mosaics. Then back to the hostel I had an Arab tea with my friend Mostafa, the Syrian refugee, and I simply admired the iPhone ringing again and again for more than two hours. It was a Jordanian number. It was the policeman of Mount Nebo.