Today our delegation group woke up early to tour Jerash and went shopping. After all, shopping is one of the most favored TechWomen past times 🙂
After a huge breakfast that partly consisted of ful, a local bean dish, and gathering everyone in the lobby of our hotel (no small feat) and a 45 minute bus ride, we arrived at the Ancient City of Jerash. Jerash has two parts, the new city (where people live now) and the old city (Roman/ Byzantine/ etc. ruins). Our group split into two to go with different tour guides through the old city. We went through Hadrian’s Gate, built in the city to commemorate him, and continued on to the Hippodrome where chariot races are held to this day (in high tourist season).
// Was too jet-lagged and tired to finish yesterday.
Right now, I’m listening to the call to prayer. I’m not sure whether it’s the jet lag, the Arabic coffee, or the shisha we sampled last night after dinner that has me awake, but it’s something you don’t hear every day in the U.S. It reminds me of my very first trip outside the U.S. to Egypt and of my time in Bangladesh.
// ending digression, back to Jerash
After the Hippodrome, we walked through the forum, an ellipse of columns around a stone plaza and had a photo taken of the whole group. One of the Palestinian TechWomen bargained for a better deal for us 🙂 One of them also danced at the Nymphaeum, where women would go to dance in the water and people were able to get water from the aqueduct.
We then went on to the North Theater, a big stone theater, and climbed around. The stage was still in good shape, and it was easy to imagine people sitting around watching a show in the half circle of bleachers. We visited the Artemis temple (Katy, one of the other mentors, got some tea from the guy selling mint tea and Arabic coffee) and checked out the three Byzantine churches up the hill. One of them (Sts. Cosmos and Damien) has beautiful mosaic floors.
Finally, it was on to the South Theater, which is still used during the Jerash Arts Festival in the summer. About 5000 people can fit in the theater, and we even got to check out its acoustics! There was a Jordanian group playing Scottish bagpipes with snare drum accompanying. Not something I thought I’d hear, but very cool!
On the whole, it was a really great visit to Jerash. Our tour guide, Ali, was very knowledgeable and took good photos:-) And it was nice to walk around outside and check out some ruins.
After Jerash, we headed back to Amman for lunch at the Wild Jordan Cafe. The food was decent (gluten free is not well understood, but our on-the-ground guy Michael helped make sure that I could eat), and we learned about their projects throughout Jordan. They work in partnership with the equivalent of the National Parks Service to protect fragile and beautiful areas in Jordan as nature preserves by collaborating with local communities on ecotourism and handicrafts businesses. The Cafe is the Amman outpost for the wilderness to help keep it in peoples’ minds. So many of the parks looked incredible– they had a good salesman. We were also able to get a good view of the Citadel, since we weren’t able to make it.
Next on our list: shopping. We checked out the handicrafts at Wild Jordan and then headed to The Soap House. They have their own skincare line (Trinitae) and also work with women in rural villages on an artisenal soap project (Orjan). It smelled wonderful, and it was interesting to listen to the second-generation soap maker talk about his business (he used to work with oil-for-food in Iraq) and how they make soap from olive oil. He also implored us not to take baths in Jordan, due to severe water shortage.
// Need to get going on this day… maybe more later…