I’ve visited 43 countries and 49 US states, and there hasn’t been a single place I’ve regretted visiting. While I’ve definitely liked some more than others (…Nebraska wasn’t the VERY most exciting place in the world), every place has had unique and interesting people and sights.But of all those places, Jordan has been one of our very favorites.
We’re big history buffs, and Jordan is rife with sights and events that have been impactful not just within the country, but for the world. The people are so so kind. The food is fantastic. And it’s beautiful.
Here’s what we did in our week there!
Our Jordan adventure started out with a bang, as Daniel got SUPER sick on the flight to Amman from Istanbul. It’s a super short flight, and he was completely fine before we took off. But our seats were split up on that flight, and he was sitting in the back with almost-2-year-old Kina and I was near the front with almost-4-year-old Nat, so I had no idea he’d become ill over the course of the flight. It turned out that he’d eaten some street food in Istanbul that made him violently ill, so much so that he was limping off the plane. By the time we walked off the jetway, we had to get a wheelchair because he couldn’t even walk.
So I put Kina in the baby carrier and Nat walked alongside me while we headed over to baggage claim. There, we claimed a car seat and two suitcases, and I stared at the cart holding them, wondering how I’d push that and my now-delirious husband in the wheelchair. The kind airline folks fortunately came over and offered to help us get over to the airport health clinic, and we gratefully accepted.
Four hours later, Dan had had multiple IVs and his blood drawn. I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about them sticking him in a foreign country, but I figured it was at least at the airport, and we didn’t really have another choice as he could not even sit up straight by that point. He finally managed to wake up enough to state his name, and they released us to go pick up our rental car. We managed to navigate through insane Amman traffic, and sort of decipher road signs. Interestingly, signs in most parts of Jordan were also written in English, but not in Amman. Many of those tended to just be in Arabic, which made it rather confusing to get to our hotel (especially since we didn’t have a phone/GPS that worked internationally, and were reliant on a paper map), but we made it and collapsed into bed.
The next morning, Dan had, if possible, gotten even worse. He’d been up every half an hour throughout the night, and was moaning in pain. We called the hotel doctor, who came to check on him, prescribed some different medicine (which I still wasn’t convinced was actually effective), and told him to rest for a few days. We were scheduled to leave for the Wadi Rum desert the next day, so we decided to say some prayers and hope he’d be able to leave the next day.
I figured it wasn’t going to do any good to have two toddlers in the hotel room with Daniel all day, so I knew I had to still take them out to explore on my own. We decided to head to the incredible ruins at Jerash. The ancient Greco-Roman settlement was incredible. And hot. So hot. Especially for a 7-month-pregnant lady who was wearing one toddler on her back and chasing after another. We drank SO MUCH water that day.
Still. We were so glad we went, and after a few harrowing experiences (baaarely finding our way back to the hotel, a giant truck veering into my lane and leaving me no choice but to veer into the one next to me that surely had a car there seconds before, but angels must’ve moved. I am being absolutely serious.), made it back to our hotel and parked.
We checked in on Dan, who was still miserable, and decided to go get some dinner. Cabs within Amman are insanely cheap, so we decided to forgo the rental car and have someone else drive us over instead. We headed to Al-Quds and got some tasty falafel and hummus, then dragged our exhausted selves back to the hotel and crashed.
We were planning to leave early this day to head to Mount Nebo before driving to Wadi Rum, but Dan was still in terrible shape in the morning. The hotel doctor came again, and told us he definitely shouldn’t travel. We finally thought to see if we could contact anyone from our church to come give Daniel a blessing. It was a Sunday, but in Jordan, our church observes the Sabbath on Friday (as Muslims do). So we didn’t think anyone would be at the church building (since we have a lay clergy, and people aren’t regularly there outside of the Sabbath), but we figured it was worth a call.
To our surprise, an older missionary couple answered the phone and after I explained the situation, said they were 10 minutes away and would be right over. Sure enough, they showed up at our hotel room door a short while after. They were so kind, hugging our kids as they missed their own grandkids, and administering to Daniel a blessing of healing.
Minutes after they left, Daniel said he felt he would be well enough to travel. I was highly skeptical; he hadn’t avoided the bathroom for more than a 45 minute stretch of time for the past 48 hours. He hadn’t been able to hold down any water or even ginger ale.
Still, he said he felt like his body would make it, so we packed everything up and loaded up the car to drive straight to Wadi Rum. It was a 5 hour drive, mostly through the middle of nowhere.
We didn’t need to stop once that entire drive. It is not hyperbolic to say this was a miracle.
We pulled into Wadi Rum just as the sun was starting to wane. After meeting us at the main office, they drove us out to the middle of absolutely nowhere in the desert to the bedouin camp. There, we had dinner beneath the stars by a campfire, a dinner which they made right in front of us and kept refilling. It was nourishing and amazing (even if Dan didn’t eat a thing, sadly). They played music for us and the kids ran in the sand and we finally fell into a deep sleep in our little cabin.
This morning, we woke up shortly after the sun to the most majestic and glorious views. Since we’d arrived at the camp past sunset, we’d only seen silhouettes of the beauty around us, but the morning light illuminated it in full. We were perched at the foot of some cliffs, which sand and rocks and hills in every direction.
We walked over to an amazing breakfast – yogurt, cheese, bread, fruit. It was quite the spread. After packing our things, we headed off on our Jeep and camel tour. We drove all through the desert to various landmarks – sand dunes, rock formations, canyons – though how our guide found his way, I have no idea. It was sand as far as the eye can see, and it was remarkable to us that he was able to make his way.
We stopped midday for him to make lunch by building a fire with a few sticks and cooking a hot meal right before our eyes. We sat on a blanket in the shade of a cliff while the kids ran around the soft sand. We briefly napped while cool breezes wafted across our hot faces, and we spent a bit of time sledding down sand dunes. It was one of the best afternoons I can remember.
At one point in the afternoon, we stopped to take a camel trip for part of the way over to an oasis. Turns out, riding a camel while clutching a toddler in front of my very pregnant belly was not the most comfortable experience of my life. So I was 100% okay with it only being a 30-minute ride.
We drove around a bit more, and finally ended our day back at the main office to retrieve our car. Camping in the desert truly was one of the most magical things we’ve experienced, so much so that we decided to do it again when we visited Morocco with kids (here’s a great Morocco self drive itinerary if you’re considering the desert there instead).
From there, we drove to Petra to a rather seedy hotel (actually, many of the hotels near Petra are rather seedy…) because it wasn’t astronomically expensive and it was super close. We hit the sack to try to get some rest before another big day!
Petra. Both Daniel and I had dreamed of going there for years and years. (Even if I totally didn’t get his Indiana Jones references since I hadn’t yet seen any of them…for shame, I know.)
Although we were tired and we knew the kids were, too, we wanted to get into the site as early as possible. I wrote all about our day there right here.
There are just so many places in the world to explore; I almost always want to try out somewhere new rather than going back to somewhere we’ve visited before. Jordan is one of the few exceptions. From the time we exited the country, I’ve been itching to find a way to go back. Soon!