Just as T.E. Lawrence did almost 90 years ago, we traveled south towards the Red Sea, only we under more comfortable circumstances. In fact, Aqaba is the only port city in the country of Jordan, which it was why it was so important the British, the Arabian revolt, and to those of us in the 21st century who though in love with the desert, now sought greener pastures.
Aqaba is also the site of the ‘oldest church in the world.’ Discovered in 1998 by NCSU archaeologist Thomas Parker, the mud-brick building has the characteristics of Roman and Byzantine churches that sprang up in Jerusalem and other parts of the Middle East in the third and fourth centuries.
Afterwards, you can take advantage of the hundreds of wonderful little shops where friendly shop-owners are willing to make a deal on a variety of products such as spices, clothing, electronics and other items we found to fill our suitcases with. In fact one of our tour team was compelled to purchase an inexpensive but rather large suitcase to bring back all her bounty. I personally wasn’t so ambitious, though I am bringing home some of the ‘flavors of Arabia’ to add some more spice to my cooking. More on that in a later post.
Chuck and I also managed to find an inexpensive Internet cafe after dinner. It was dingy, the keyboards were sticky. It was run by a type-cast geek with coke-bottle glasses, greasy hair and all. Still, the $2 J.D. per hour was cheaper and just as fast as the Movenpick’s $9 J.D. for the same service.
Afterwhich, a wonderful sleep on a bed much softer and a bit less dusty then what we enjoyed in the desert the night before.by