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Paul & Tracey's Travels
20th Feb 2015 - Jordan
Cut off at the Dead Sea, and a visit to the Jordan/Israeli border

I met the guide at noon in the hotel to be told that the snow falls had been so bad up in the hills and in Amman that the bus and driver were trapped up there. The local authorities had told people not to try using their cars and to stay at home. I was therefore cut off at the Dead Sea. As it has it's own pleasant weather system - it was warm and sunny and dry, this was no great hardship, although it meant that the only place we could go and visit was a religious site about 10km along the valley.

The River Jordan and a look at Israel

Our guide had arranged for a couple of local taxis to drive us over to the site on the River Jordan where supposedly (if you believe these things), Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist. We drove along the main road that runs parallel to the Dead Sea for a few minutes, then took a minor road towards the river that flows in to the Dead Sea very near this point. This area has only been open to the public fairly recently as it was previously a minefield. This is because at this point the river forms the border between Jordan and Israel.

The area is a mixture of arid waste ground and sparkly new Christian churches built in the last 20 years. As we followed the small road down to the so called Baptism Site, we were stopped at a checkpoint and given a once over before being let through, presumably because we were not immediately recognised as tourists, being in a cab rather than a mini bus. Then we parked on a bit of waste ground and wandered through the Eucalyptus trees, every so often spotting a young Jordanian soldier, until we came up to a wooden Boardwalk on the banks of a very muddy and swollen Jordan River. 

The thing I was not expecting was that it is so thin at this point. Even though it is swollen from the snow melt and had flooded a series of steps that run down to the normal edge of the river, it was only a few feet across. On the other side was Israel where dozens of people were doing the same as us (looking at a muddy river) but from the Israeli side. On our side there was just the 7 of us standing on the boardwalk, on the other side there was clearly a big concrete visitors area, and people were "baptising" themselves by dipping their goes in the water! Armed Israeli soldiers wandered through the crowds.

After this slightly surreal experience, it was back in the taxis, and a return to the hotel to relax for the rest of the day.

Tomorrow, the plan is to try and get back into Amman, the capital, to look around, snow allowing. The forecast was for more snow today but then warmer temperatures tomorrow, so this should be OK.

Next: From the lowest point on Earth, to the Jordanian mountain based capital
Previous: Road trip north, ancient city, and apocalyptic weather

Diary Photos

Baptism Site, River Jordan, near Dead Sea, Jordan

Church at Baptism Site, River Jordan, Jordan

Baptism Site, River Jordan, near Dead Sea, Jordan

Baptism Site, River Jordan, near Dead Sea, Jordan

Baptism Site, River Jordan, near Dead Sea, Jordan

Baptism Site, River Jordan, near Dead Sea, Jordan

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