THE KAERU KID: Journey to Jordan (pt. 2)

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series.

THE FINAL DESTINATION — The “High Place of Sacrifice” platform, where animal sacrifices were once carried out. photo by the Kaeru Kid

Our final destination was known as the “High Place of Sacrifice” platform (which was supposedly gold covered in ancient times) where animal sacrifices were carried out. Channels can still be seen where blood drained away. Riding horseback close to this area allowed me to conserve strength to visit the vast interior area where the midday heat, walking in the soft sand and climbing up tall structures can sap anyone’s energy.

In leaving Petra through the narrow canyon, I double backed to experience how the majority of visitors enter Petra and was awestruck.

It is easy to imagine what the Swiss explorer, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, must have felt when he was the first European to discover Petra in 1812. The story of how he learned fluent Arabic to disguise his Western origin and how he concocted a story to convince his Bedouin guide to lead him here is a fascinating tale in itself.

Local Bedouins. photo by the Kaeru Kid

A friend loves to trek to exotic places and he always takes magnificent photos of the people he meets. Bedouins here insisted on being paid for photos. Somehow, by purchasing some small items from them, I was permitted to take free snapshots.

The three-and-a-half hour minivan bus ride to Amman, capital of Jordan, from Petra cost 10 Jordanian dinars (less than $15). Prices in Jordan for everything seem to be higher than in Syria. My budget hotel, Abbasi Palace, in Amman was located in the Balad (Old Town), which I found to be a rather seedy area much like sections of Latin America where there are many street vendors, except it did not feel dangerous. It had received good reviews in guidebooks but it was only tolerable because the female owner was so pleasant and helpfully answered any questions or solved any problems. Fortunately, the weather was fairly pleasant because the air-conditioner really only functioned as a fan.

After visiting Petra, it was a letdown to see the poorly preserved Roman theater and temple in Amman. Sitting in a very soft chair at the hotel for a few hours resulted in severe backaches for a few days and resulted in my canceling a visit to the town of Madaba to see many fine mosaics there. A day trip to the city of Jerash mainly to see re-enactments of Roman chariot racing and gladiator fighting in a well-preserved Roman amphitheater was also canceled.

With so much information available on the Internet, guidebooks seem to be superfluous for many destinations, but they are handy for Jordan because so many signs are only in Arabic. One could point to a place of interest and helpful residents are able to direct you without knowing English.

Some of my observations of life in Jordan include seeing many Indonesian maids working here because they are Muslims. Women tend to dress in Western attire but there are a few with veils. It is a secular society with many Christians (about six percent or 400,000) living among Muslims peacefully. Drivers do not respect pedestrians’ crossing rights. A pregnant woman carrying a child even had to scurry as cars sped past. Taxes are around 17 percent and restaurants frequently add a 10 percent service charge. There is relatively little oil or water in Jordan, so costs are high for both.

CHEAP, FRESH AND TASTY — The Kaeru Kid dined on Falafel. photo by the Kaeru Kid

A restaurant called Hashem serves only falafel, hummus, and fuul (fava bean paste) for 1 JD (less than $1.50) and has been an institution here since 1922 because the cheap, fresh and tasty food is quite filling. I missed eating what is said to be the best falafel in the Middle East at Falafel al-Quds located on Wakalat Street. I splurged at Zad el Khair restaurant because Iraqi ex-pats raved about the masgouf, the Iraqi national dish, served here. It is grilled marinated carp, but disappointed me, probably because the glowing stories led to unrealistic high expectations. The restaurant was located in modern Amman with many expensive shops, Mercedes dealerships and high-rise buildings.

A DISAPPOINTMENT — The Zad el Khair restaurant's masgouf (grilled marinated carp), the Iraqi national dish, was a letdown. photo by the Kaeru Kid

A valuable lesson for me was to try to limit trips to two weeks or less since fatigue causes one to wonder if the effort to see a particular site is worthwhile. There is so much to see of interest in this area and to avoid an expensive return trip that the extended time seemed worth the effort. At least I appreciated my return home even more than usual.

 

Las Vegas Tidbits

There are three games in which players can theoretically win mathematically, e.g. poker, blackjack and video poker.
I have previously mentioned ways to educate yourself for video poker, but it seems that few Nikkei seem to take notice.
Some tips include: attend Bob Dancer’s free video poker seminars. Go to: BobDancer.com to see the class schedule. He sells software and other products, which you can use to practice. Become a member of vpfree2.com and find the best video poker games at every casino in their data file. Bob Dancer and Frank Kneeland had an informative radio show that was heard in Las Vegas on 1230 AM at 7 p.m. on Thursdays. Frank, who wrote “The Secret World of Video Poker Progressives,” has left the show and now the co-host is Richard Munchkin, a table games expert. One can also tune in at: www.klav1230am.com/Shows/GamblingEdge.html.
Gambling greats are frequent guests and topics range from sports, poker, Blackjack and video poker, etc. Past programs can be downloaded as MP3 files in iTunes under podcasts titled “Gambling With An Edge.”
Full disclosure: Both Bob and Frank are friends of mine. Frank is a genius but tends to come across as a smart aleck. He traveled the world with his Hollywood producer father and ballet dancer mother. He was home-schooled by his mother for much of his education. He studied violin as a youngster and won a scholarship to The Juilliard School but he turned it down to care for his mother, who broke her hip. You can read about his life and how he became the manager of the largest progressive video poker team in his aforementioned book. They only had two losing months in 20 years. He was married to a Japanese woman and had a daughter but after the divorce she disappeared with the daughter.

The Kaeru Kid lives in Las Vegas and hopes readers will send him comments at KaeruKid@yahoo.com. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

Comments

  1. William Matsushima says

    I enjoyed the history and descriptions of the visit to Jordan. What a gutsy trip!

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