Saturday, November 14, 2015

Jordan to Israel: Where Did Moses Go?

This trip is mainly my dad's idea. It is his dream to be in a Holy Land Tour. I am the daughter-turned-personal-assistant for this trip.

We joined a Catholic pilgrimage type of tour. Pilgrimage tours trace the steps in sacred sites. We did the Jordan-Israel and Dubai route. Dubai is not part of the Holy Land Tour. Another Holy Land loop is Jordan-Israel and Egypt.

I've had three years of Catholic schooling so I do have some knowledge about the Bible. Plus, I've read the children's bible when I was a kid. It pays to have some sort of idea of what happened in the bible before joining such trip.
Emirates stopover at DXB

We arrived in Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan at around 10AM. I was tired but I powered through. Sleeping in long flights in always a challenge for me. I guess that's also because I've always travelled in economy. Nyuhuhuhu. 

The group lined up near the immigration area where an officer collected all our passports. Generally, Filipinos need to secure a visa before travelling to Jordan. If you travel with an accredited travel/tour agency, there's no need to obtain a visa prior to travelling. [These were the rules during the time of our travel (October 2015) so check if this rule changed.] 

We went to the concourse to get our luggage. We waited for our passports to be handed back to us which took about 20-30 minutes. 

Suitcases with Mama. I wasn't backpacking this time so I packed freely (read: not lightly).

The tour started immediately as we got out of the airport and piled our stuff in the tour bus for the next 3 days. Wala nang ligo-ligo. We knew this. The trip preps tips from our travel agency indicated that the tour starts immediately when we land in Jordan. So I took time to brush my teeth when we stopped over in DXB.

Papa trying out the selfie shot

We had Jillian for our guide. She was really an amazing guide for the trip. She was Catholic and also studying to get ther PhD. That's quite a rare profile in Jordan. While on the bus, she taught us some useful Arabic phrases and facts & figures about Jordan. We headed to the mosaic city of Madaba.

Not the best weather. It was raining. But i had this frame all to myself

I confess, I don't recall the name of every church or every site that we visited. I can recall some of the stories and some of its history though. But I didn't know where I was at all times. All I knew is that if I was with the tour group, I was good. Anyway, I don't want to tell you every detail I learned because it would be better if you see so for yourself (naks, lusot daw oh).

A Greek Orthodox Church



There was this map of Jordan inside this church (which I cannot recall the name).
That's Jilian, our guide.

If you love mosaic, you'll go crazy over the stuff they sell in Jordan. 

The mosaic floor of the church

We got a souvenir map from the church for 3 JOD. Sometimes, we tend to buy the souvenirs as a form of "help". I tried not to buy too much because I didn't want to accumulate a lot of junk. 

I withdrew Jordanian Dinars (JOD) in the airport via ATM. I think you could survive the entire pilgirmate trip with just USDs. Almost all of the restaurants and souvenir shops accepted dollars anyway.

Family shot in the resto's viewing point

It did stop raining late in the afternoon. We drove and did a mild uphill hike to get to this church. (Senior moment, I can't recall the name). So here's a bunch of other photos from the place.





Posing with something that looks important and historical

The nice advantage of being in a group tour is having a guide explain you the history and relevance of each site. This is in Mount Nebo where Moses viewed the Promise Land.  



Our second day in Jordan was spent in Petra. I have awesome photo from that place so I'll post that in a separate blog entry.
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We had a priest travelling with us. Masses were held everyday.
We I had to wake up early for the morning masses.  
You'd think that daily mass is an overkill, but this is a pilgrimage tour. There's time to strengthen our faith and time to reflect. And some of the places where we had mass were really really awesome.



We visited Al Maghtas on our third day in Jordan. This is a World Heritage Site which is the Baptism Site. Officially, it is called "Bethany Beyond Jordan" - if I recall correctly.

My dad snapped this shot of me doing a face while waiting and waiting. Travelling with a group means you'll be waiting for everyone else before you can proceed.
Hello Bougainvillea!

Jordan River, low tide

Jilian explaining to the group re where we are and what happened here

We were all rebaptized in this site. The priest says your real name when he baptizes you. So if you introduce yourself with your nickname, say, Kate, but your real name is Henriquecienita, the priest will say "Henriquecienita, I baptize you...etc.".
 
Being baptized again.

The area is vast. We had to walk a lot to get from point A to point B.
 
Family shot with Greek Orthodox Church

Al Maghtas was really close to the border crossing to Israel. I think the drive was less than an hour.

When we got to immigration (Jordan exit), we handed over our passports for the exit stamp. We didn't go down the bus. According to our guide, this arrangement depends. On some days, they ask everyone to get down the bus and line up. We were lucky. They just handed back the stamped passports back on the bus.

After a short drive, we arrived in Israel's immigation. 

Filipinos are not required to have a visa to enter Israel. However, note that if your passport has an Israel stamp, you will not be allowed to enter other countries in the Middle East.  I need a citation and explanation for this but for now, just stick with me. Israel knows this so they don't stamp your passport, they just put a sticker in your passport.

Israel visa: that yellow sticker

Your luggage will also go through these inspection machines. Passport "stamping" was quick, but it took over an hour to get everyone's luggage across. Though there wasn't a crowd, the inspection just really took time.

Then we boarded another bus with another guide to drive into Israel!

Our first stop was Mount Temptation. Weather was hot but I like that better because the skies are better meaning we have better light and sky for photos.




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