qatarperegrine: (Default)
Since this morning was the third Friday in Advent, our Gospel reading was the section in John 1 about John the Baptist doing his thing at Bethany-over-Jordan. We also had a baptism at church, and a new font was dedicated for the occasion. All this baptism-related activity prompts me to post a first round of pictures from our trip to Jordan.

So here you go: pictures of Al-Maghtas, the purported location of Bethany-over-Jordan.

Hmm. Now that I've been to the place where the Buddha reached enlightenment and the place where Jesus first heard the voice of God, how many more liminal places would I have to visit to collect the whole set? Let's see, there's Mount Sinai for Moses, Mount Hira for Muhammad....

And, while I'm at it, here's another interesting baptism-related picture from Jordan: the fifth-century baptistry at an early Byzantine church in Petra. There aren't many baptistries this old still around, apparently. The font itself is in the shape of a cross, but attached to it is a second, round font. The plaque outside the baptistry said that this has been taken as evidence of infant baptism in the fifth century church, since only a baby could be immersed in such a small basin.

qatarperegrine: (Default)
One of my most surprisingly commented-on posts was my Note to Qatari journalists, in which I pointed out that anything headlined Burger King offers "Family Meal" is not actually news.

Apparently they didn't listen: New offering from McDonald’s.

The Peninsula, on the other hand, has this tear-jerker: Road accident claims Qatari youth. Can you imagine anything sadder? It sounds like an Egyptian soap opera.

The Peninsula also had this interesting article on Arab media: Expert questions US motive in advocating democracy in Syria. Any idea what "Michael Jacksonising the Arab youths" means? Is he referring to rumors that Michael Jackson is converting to Islam? Because that's not what I think of when I think of Michael Jackson and youth. I don't think I want Arab youths to be Michael Jacksonised.

In more personal news, I now have all 1054 pictures of our Jordan trip on my laptop. (No, I'm wrong; there are about six dozen underwater camera pictures out there somewhere.) As you can imagine, it will take a while to sort through them, label them and post them.
qatarperegrine: (travel)
The Dukes have put some of their pictures from the Jordan trip online. The first half of the trip has captions; the second half, you have to guess what we're doing. :-) Actually, I think the only one that still needs explanation is that the next-to-last picture is of some Dead Sea scrolls.

Click the below picture to go to their album!
Justin and Marjorie at Wadi Rum
qatarperegrine: (mandala)
We saw a lot of mosaics in Jordan. A lot. But this one was my favorite:

This mosaic (called the Hippolytus Mosaic since the next row down depicts that Euripides play) was in a sixth century Byzantine villa. Apparently the Byzantines in Madaba, though Christian, frequently depicted Greek gods in their art. As far as I can tell, this mosaic shows Charis (in some sources one of Aphrodite's attendants) chasing Eros and finally delivering him to Aphrodite, who spanks him with her sandal. (Hitting people with her sandal seems to have been a hobby of Aphrodite's.) I'm not sure of the role of the peasant looking on from the left.

It's the character on the right that makes this my favorite mosaic, though: Aphrodite's young lover, Adonis. In Greek mythology, he was a beautiful young man with whom both Aphrodite and Persephone fell in love, so they timeshared him until his tragic death in a hunting accident. The mystery religion surrounding his story involved women annually mourning his death. ("Gentle Adonis is dying, O Cythera, what shall we do? / Beat your breasts, O maidens, and rend your garments" said Sappho.)

The interesting part is that Adonis is linked with the Sumerian god Tammuz, consort of Inana. Adonis is obviously from the Semitic adonai, "Lord"; the Greek myths describe him as coming from Asia Minor; and Ezekiel 8 describes women mourning Tammuz just as they mourned Adonis.

So Adonis began life as a Sumerian fertility god, was absorbed into the Greek pantheon, and then was reexported to Jordan where he adorned the floor of a Byzantine Christian.

And that's why this is my favorite mosaic in Jordan.
qatarperegrine: (shiva)
About an hour ago, bombs went off in three Amman hotels -- the Grand Hyatt, the Radisson, and the Days Inn.

In the time it took me to write that sentence, CNN's fatality report went from 5 to 18.

If anyone's counting, Cairo was bombed the day after we left, too. Justin just recalled with relief that India was not bombed after our visit, although a political candidate was assassinated while we were there.

Do you suppose we could be horsepeople of the apocalypse and not know it?
qatarperegrine: (travel)
Lesson 1 learned from Jordan: once you've had homemmade ma'amoul, you can't go back to the storebought kind. I'm trying right now, and it's depressing.

Actually, that's probably Lesson 2. Lesson 1 is: Fire coral is NOT your friend.

Anyway, while we get our act together enough for a picture gallery, here is a summary of our trip to Jordan, in Mad Lib format. We wrote it; the Dukes supplied the answers (in italics). See if you can guess what we REALLY did in Jordan!

Our Jordanian Adventure: A Mad Lib

We flew into Queen Madonna Airport outside of Amman, where we were met by a pretty man who helped us get our inspection point visas. Exhausted, we went straight to the Firas Light Bulb Hotel.

The next morning we met our guide, Justin, a yummy man with degrees in kinesiology. We drove north to Umm 'Awrence, where Jesus once exorcised suitcases into a herd of chickens. After a stop in Ajloun, the tall Nabatean person built by George Washington's cousin to defend Jordan against the goats, we strolled through Jerash, sometimes called the best-preserved Roman teacup.

Over the next few days we explored the Jordanian sites mentioned in Where the Wild Things Are, including Mt. Nebo, where John Quincy Adams saw the Promised Cloud, and Mukawir, where John Hancock was executed by yelping. In Madaribbit ribbit we surveyed many Byzantine wigs, including a famous map of Doha.

A highlight of our trip was stopping at the Dead Fresco, which unlike normal frescos is over 30% gelatinous stuff. Like thousands of tourists each year, we frolicked by the edge of the fresco, hitting and rubbing our bodies with shoes.

The next night we arrived in Petra, once poetically described as "the Lotus Red City." We worked our way down the long, crusty Siq until suddenly the majestic FBI loomed before us. Awestruck, David cried out, "Blaaah!" and Lanny replied, "Yikes!" We spent two days exploring Petra, including a long climb to Lot's Cave; Lanny later regretted not renting a Mack Dog. Along the way, many Bedouin were peddling dunes and virgin strawberry daiquiris. Our last night in Petra we luxuriated in a Chadian sink before learning to cook hummos, cinnamon rolls and bacon at the Petra Bathroom.

The next day we piled into an old Hummer H2 and drove to our camping site in Wadi Vodka and Tonic, which T.E. Lawrence once described as smooth, slimy and Qatar-like.

In Aqagobble gobble, we went javelin-tossing and Scuba-hopscotching in the Khaki Sea. The fish were amazing, but the girls' experience of the beach was marred by the slick attitude of the local beans, one of whom even grabbed Marjorie's nostril.

On our last day we returned to Amman, stopping on the way to see Lot's Precipice and the site on the River Bryant where John the Baptist is believed to have run Jesus. We recalled the Bible story in which the heavens opened, a pterodactyl descended, and God proclaimed, "Walk forwards, not backwards!"

Overall, we had a funny time in Jordan. The sights, the peole and the culture were all dusty. If you are considering a trip to Jordan, the most important advice we can give you is, "Attitude is the difference, win or lose."
qatarperegrine: (eid)
We just flew in a couple hours ago. Jordan was fabulous! Many pictures and comments to follow, inshallah.

Now, to bed! For... TONIGHT WE DINE IN WADI RUM! (We watched Lawrence of Arabia while there. The dialogue was very make-fun-of-able.)

A belated 'Eid mubarak, incidentally.
qatarperegrine: (camel)
First thing in the morning we're flying out to Jordan for our 'Eid vacation!

So for the next week and a half, imagine us here in Petra:

and I'll tell you all about it when we get home!


qatarperegrine: (Default)

August 2011

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