plane ride over was only rough for a few hours, and everything else has fallen into place as it always does. we just left jordan this morning and picked up the rental car to begin the israel part of the trip.
jordan was fantastic; amman is a sprawling mess (i'd give "a good place to recover from jetlag" stars), but petra was amazing. the buildings carved out from the mountains really are something, and the surrounding hills have that old lake basin, weathered, arizona look. the whole experience has an easy, kind of dutchess county fair-like fun about it as you go from site to site, and the bedoins have officially surplanted the japanese in the "people most kind to our children" contest we didn't know we were running. it was a bit ridiculous actually. we have like 14 beaded bracelets, wooden carved camels, (consumed) chocolates, and one serious man-crush on our donkey driver, fajad. nate loves him so much he can't even remember his name. at the very mention of jordan today, it was, "oh, jordan makes me think of ... that guy". "fajad?" "yeah, fajad". fajad took us to his village (upgraded to cement houses when they moved the bedoins out of petra 20 years ago) and we had tea with his mother and 15 brothers and sisters. i think the man-crush started when fajad took nate under his wing when nate was having a hard time sharing the bedoin scimitar. story for another time. our second day we did a 5 mile, pretty off-the-beaten path hike through an unused canyon around the outskirts of the main sites (that nate managed to walk the whole way by himself!).
today we crossed over to eilat and had a dip in the red sea before heading up to masada. we got there just before it closed, so we pretty much had the place and the sunset to ourselves (for the brief time we got them). ruins haven't lost any of their allure, and nate is already looking forward to the theatre in beit shean that he saw a poster of (he performed peter pan to the delight of the amman roman theatre crowd, who knows what will be next!?!?!?, although this afternoon we did unleash the joseph soundtrack so that might be the front-runner). tomorrow we'll finish up here with some dead sea mud and then on to jerusalem.
aya's been doing great, like nate on the australia trip she seems to be becoming a person at a faster rate. she was equally fascinated with the bedoins ("i know that guy!" when we saw fajad on the second day and the subtle differences of horse, camel, and donkey poop "donkey poop", "more donkey poop!" were the highlights), and hiking ruins ("i do self") are no sweat. sleeping was a bit of an issue at first, but now we've got her going to sleep side-by-side with nate and that's done the trick. she's already pushing for an annie production at the next roman theatre...
rachel and baby are feeling very well too, growing happily as ever in the middle eastern sun.
hope all is all well at home, if we don't have a chance to write again, see you very soon!