Eid is celebrated twice a year by the Muslim community. The first, Eid Al Fitr, comes after the month of Ramadan, to celebrate to end the month of fasting. The second Eid- Eid Al Adha can be described in better detail below by our friends at Public Holidays Global…
In the UAE, as in many Muslim countries, Eid al-Adha is a time of family reunions, feasting, and religious devotion. Considering that eid means “solemn festival,” it is not surprising that Eid al-Adha has a distinctly religiousness to it, with morning prayers at the mosque, listening to a sermon on the importance of sacrifice, wearing new clothes, and animal sacrifice (called qurbani) constituting a major part of how it is observed.
Eid al-Adha generally lasts for four days straight, beginning on the 10th day of the Islamic month Dhul Hijja. Also note that the exact date is never set in stone until a government moon-sighting committee officially declares it.
Eid al-Adha commemorates the Quranic account of Ibrahim unquestioningly offering up Ishmael on Mount Moriah in obedience to Allah’s command. Allah then sends an angel to stop the sacrifice short, allowing Ishmael to live, and assures Ibrahim that his sacrifice “has already been accepted.”
Muslims who can afford it, both in the UAE and elsewhere, often go on pilgrimage to Mecca at this time of year to take part in symbolic remembrances of Ibrahim’s sacrifice.
The holiday is celebrated here in Dubai and school is off for an entire week. Layne actually got three days off of work as well! So what does all of this mean to us? Basically, all of the malls, groceries, beaches, etc are packed with families and people who are out celebrating and enjoying time together. To stay out of the chaos, the Schroeder family decided to travel to Jordan and experience a once in a lifetime opportunity! When I say we decided, I mean Layne actually surprised Caden and I with the trip and planned out a wonderful adventure for us!
I appologize in advance for the photo’s. The files are large from my camera and take some time to load. They also werent showing up in a slide show format, so I hope this works! 🙂
After a quick 2.5 hour plane ride, we arrived in the beautiful country of Jordan! First and foremost, our driver, turned tour guide, was AMAZING! We highly recommend him to anyone visiting the area and have approval from him to include his contact information for you!
Issam M Hirzallah
Day 1- Arrival to Jordan & Visiting Jarash
We flew into Amman, Jordan on Saturday and quickly started to learn facts about the country and all of its inhabitants. Most of this information we learned from Issam in the car, but we also had some good tour guides at various sites, who served as reliable resources for information.
In the capital city of Amman, which has gone by several names in history (Rabath Ammon, Philadelphia, etc), the east is new and the west is old. Upon driving through, we noticed that it was election time. There were head shots everywhere you could imagine, which was a little distracting. However, the many beautiful sites, beyond the signage, attracted our attention quickly. 30% of Jordan is green and 70% of it is desert, quite different from Dubai! The famous local fruit is pomegranate and you can see olive trees any where you look. After an hour drive, we stopped at the Garden Valley Restaurant and had the best humus I have EVER had! It was seriously amazing! We got three different types, two servings of meat, the biggest two pieces of fresh pita bread, fries for Caden and Layne, a fresh cucumber/tomato salad and a couple of relish trays. All of that for $35, inclusive of the tip…what a deal!
We then traveled down the road to Jarash, the city of roman ruins. We got a tour guide there who informed us of the decline in local tourism. They used to do three tours a day and are now down to one a week. It is quite sad! (So please visit!!) The city and the architecture are quite amazing! You can see ionic and Corinthian style details on the pillars. This city actually used to be known as the city of 1000 pillars, but now only 300 stand. Twenty churches have been excavated in this area, however they believe there are more they have yet to unearth. All churches built here face the East and this started with pagan worship, thousands of years ago. However, there were four different eras and times of various control in this area: Greek, Roman, Byzantine Christian and then Arab. The city had a population of 30,000 people before a major earthquake in 700 AD, when all of the people were wiped out. It was very interesting to us that the churches turned from pagan temples, to Christian churches along the way. It showed the dynamic history of the people.
Our favorite spot here was the temple for the goddess Diana- goddess of hunting. She was a twin of Apollo, but was first-born and “helped” her mom bear the birth of her brother. Because of this, she was treated as royalty throughout history. Her temple and its 11 pillars have been standing for over 2000 years! One pillar has fallen, but the pieces remain around the temple steps. The view from this temple was simply breathless!
Day 1- Ash Shawbak Castle
After Jarash, we drove for 3hrs, through straight desert, to Petra. Along the side of the roads we saw camels, shepherds corralling their sheep and a family with probably 15 kids in the back of their pick up truck, traveling to town. Apparently this is normal? Issam told us of a story of his friend with three wives and 23 kids. His friend doesn’t know all of their names, but just yells “hey” when he needs something. I image this guy travels close to the same way the other family does. What a different way of life!
Before arriving at our hotel in Petra, we stopped at the Ash Shawbak Castle. (To get there we actually traveled on a high way, given to Jordan as a gift from the US government.) Shawbak means forest area with lots of trees. The people here had to cut approximately a million trees to get the city built.
Day 2- Petra (written by Guest Blogger – Layne)
Bloggers extraordinares, Chelsie and Caden, have been
nagging asking me to guest blog for quite some time. I decided that this would be a time to give it a whirl, due to my liking of history…
We stayed at the Petra Guest House, which is literally right outside of the entrance to the historical Petra site. The amenities were nice, and they have a bar/grille in a 2000 year old cave. Not your typical run-of-the-mill place to grab a drink or dinner.
Petra is the most visited tourist site in Jordan, so we got up early the next day and started our tour at 8:00 am. Although the first mention of Petra came in the Bible in 321 BC, Petra became famous when Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade had parts of the movie filmed in Petra. Since that time, Petra has been named as one of the New7Wonders of the World which caused a boon in tourism until 2011.
Historians believe that people had lived in Petra dating back to 2000 BC. The original settlers were called “Nabataeans”, who were Arab people that lived nomadic lives in the desert. Historically, the site was very strategic for a couple of reasons, and really took off in the 1st century BC:
- The location was a strategic junction between the Asian trade routes connecting Egypt, Africa & Asia.
- There is a natural Siq, or narrow path, carved between rocks that are 30 to 130 meters high and the path is only 3 to 9 meters wide in certain places. Thus, easy to defend for the natives or difficult to attack for conquering parties.
The Siq is between 1-2 KM in length, and then opens up into the famous Treasury. You can instantly see why Petra is called the Rose City, when you see the view of the Treasury in the shadow of the sun.
I won’t bore you from all of the history, but several different dynasties influenced Petra, such as the Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantine Christians and finally conquering Arabs. Amongst others, my top things to see at the Park were carved by the Nabataeans into the rock walls including: The Treasury, Royal Tombs, The Theatre, and the Monestary.
My favorite part of the day was the one hour hike up to the Monastery. The hike was fairly intense, as we climbed various manmade stairs, small rocks or walked through sand to the top. Also, I drew the short straw and had the 25 lb chunk on my back, which looking back was not the smartest move, since I have been known to be the most uncoordinated, coordinated person that people know. At the top, the view of the Monastery and mountains is well worth the effort. Also, you can get a good glimpse of the tomb of Aaron.
By the time we were finished, we ended the day at 25,500 steps and had gone up over 116 set of stairs according to my fitbit.
Two major earthquakes in Jordan (circa 329 AD and 700 AD) impacted the structures in the city. After the second earthquake, the city was sparsely populated outside of a few villages.
In 1985 the government paid the people who were still trying to go down and live in the city to move out to open the Park. The government helped them build a village outside of the caves.
*Signing off from Layne*
Day 2- Dinner with a Local Family
We had the opportunity to visit the home of a local Syrian refugee family for dinner on our second night. They had one son Faiz who was three, who loved playing with Caden. They served us a local dish- Maklooba, which is a dish prepared upside down and then flipped over for serving. Maklooba means upside down in Arabic. This dish consists of rice, potato, chicken, eggplant, onion and several delicious spices. Bless their hearts, they served us SO much food we though our stomachs were going to explode! But the food was delicious, so we kept shoveling it in (we also didn’t want to be disrespectful). For dessert we were given sesame seed cookies, a Syrian sweet and a piece of chocolate, which filled us to the brim, if not over. We stayed for about an hour and a half watching our boys play together. Issam was our translator between both family’s, who each only speak their native languages.
We left with food babies in our belly and our real baby, tired and sleepy. They actually asked to keep Caden overnight, they loved him so much! Their little boy, Faiz, actually cried when we left, it was so sweet! We had a delightful time with the family and greatly enjoyed the unique experience Issam provided us with.
*Shoes off at entrance of home. No pictures of the wife. Do not show the bottoms of your feet.*
Day 3- Little Petra & Lots of Travel
On day three, we quickly jumped into the car and started driving on Kings Highway, which nearly made me sick, but I am glad we did it for the amazing sites. We stopped to see Little Petra, which is like Petra, but smaller (no pun intended). After our quick stop, we took Nomilah Road towards the Dead Sea. This road was named after the pattern that ants take when they weave their paths. The only way to describe this road is treacherous, and we would not have taken it ourselves. Issam had to call the tourism department to make sure it was open for us to take the “scenic route”. We went over 40 KM without seeing another car on the road!
After we made it out of the mountains, we caught glimpse of Lot’s Cave, which is the white building on the mountain side in the photos below. They aren’t sure where exactly, but this is the area that Sodom and Gomorrah cities were located in the Old Testament.
People were out everywhere visiting each other for Eid. All of the kids were running to the parks for an afternoon of play. We often saw them stopping to ask people for money on this “giving” holiday. We saw more families piled into cars, as many people as possible, even little newborn babies sitting in the front with their moms. It didn’t really seem like there were rules against it. We even saw four young boys hanging out the side windows of a car driving by…completely normal right?!
Day 3- Madaba Church
After risking our lives, or what felt like it, up the side of the mountains, we finally reached Madaba church. This is the church of Saint George which was rebuilt in the 19th century. During excavations in 1884 they discovered the Madaba Map, and this is the oldest known map of the Holy Land. Below are the pictures I took of the map, which has been preserved since the discovery. An interesting stat, according to Issam, is that 7-8% of the Jordan population is Christian, with Madaba being one of the popular areas for Christians to live. Although Christians are a small percentage of the whole, they get along well with their Muslim neighbors throughout Jordan.
Day 3- The Promised Land
After Madaba we took a quick jog over to see the Promised Land on top of Mount Nebo, as Moses saw it over 3000 years ago! This is where Moses walked up to see the Promise Land, that he would never make it too. He died on top of the mountain, but they have not discovered the location of his tomb. From the top of Mount Nebo, you can still see one of the original 12 springs that Moses struck with his staff to get the Israelites water. According to Issam, three of the 12 springs still have water flowing today.
Click here to learn more about why Moses didn’t get to go to the Promise Land.
Day 3- Jesus’ Baptism Site
We quickly went back down the mountain side and were dropped off to visit the Baptism site on the Jordan river. This is where Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist, see the photo below with the steps into what used to be the river. The river has moved over time, so we walked a little bit further to put our feet in and visit a church that was built to signify the five original churches that were built in the area.
Day 3- The Dead Sea at the Movenpick Resort
As the sun started to set, we ran back to our resort room and got into our swim suits. We made our way down to the Dead Sea and were able to grab a couple of photos before it got to dark. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on the earth and people who live in this area are healthier, because they get more oxygen daily.
Because of the amount of salt and minerals in the water, your body floats. We were told ahead of time to keep Caden out of the water, so we had to take turns getting in the sea. The minerals are simply to harsh for a baby’s skin and we didn’t want to risk getting it in his eyes either. After our photos in the sea, we both lathered up in the mud baths. Caden thought this was quite comical! We then rinsed off, took a dip in the pool with our little swimmer and headed back to shower up for dinner. We ate a nice family meal at the Italian restaurant, followed by a short belly dancing show before we hit the hay. Cad
After a busy and quick trip, we can honestly say this is one we will never forget. It was so amazing to see the sites that are spoken about in the Bible and think that people like Jesus, John the Baptist and Moses all walked on the same ground. What a blessing to be able to experience that together as a family!