Trips to Safeway, Madaba and the Dead Sea

Something generally lacking in the Middle East has been grocery stores. Fresh produce is readily available, and there are many “supermarkets” that sell chips, chocolate bars, water, pop and maybe two or three other products. But there’s still been a bit lacking.

So conveniently, in Amman there is actually a Safeway. Our visit there was a generally uneventful occasion, in which we stocked up on things like cereal bars, cookies, and other non-chip snack supplies. But the real surprise was the candy store, where they were selling chocolate coins. Canadian chocolate coins, just like we’d get at home. We actually didn’t get any because they were expensive, but it was kind of odd nonetheless.

And then today, at our first stop in Madaba, we went into a coffee shop, as real coffee is something that Kathy has been missing – they only serve Nescafe here, or Turkish/Arabic/Greek coffee, which is kind of gross – and we got chatting to the owner about the Canadian flag on his wall (he only had the flags of Canada and Jordan). Turns out the during the summer months, he lives in Edmonton, specifically Castledowns. One of those weird, small-world type experiences. It was a little less of a surprise running into Canadians at tourist sites (though they are a bit rare), but owners of local businesses, you don’t really expect it.

The rest of our day was spent sightseeing. In Madaba, we stopped at a Greek orthodox church where they have a mosaic of a map showing all the biblical sites in the Middle East. The mosaic was created in 560 AD, but unfortunately only about 1/3 still survives. The church itself seemed otherwise quite newish.

Mt Nebo was kind of interesting. It’s supposedly where Moses died, and there’s a 6th century church there that was API Call Errorexcavated starting in 1933, and which has a new roof over it, with the outer wall rebuilt, and is now an active monastic church, run by Franciscans. Most of the inside is original, complete with broken columns and all.

Our last stop was the Dead Sea. It wasn’t exactly the greatest experience. First, it cost 5 JD each to get onto the API Call Errorbeach, and then pay extra to use the change room. Pay more if you want chairs. Then once we were actually API Call Errorin the water, we both discovered something that hadn’t previously been mentioned – if you have any sores or raw skin, it really stings. While it was kind of neat to float that easily, the pain prevented us from spending much time doing it. Even standing straight up, feet not touching the bottom, you don’t have to tread water or anything, just kind of bob there like a cork. But I’m not sure it was worth the effort of getting there.

Anyway, we’re heading for Jerash tomorrow, and are planning to catch the bus to Damascus on Thursday.

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