We spent the week in Jordan! I loved it so much! On Monday morning we got up early to get to the border first and crossed over into Jordan, which was only about 45 minutes away from Jerusalem. We stopped in Bethany and saw the place where they think Jesus was baptized. The Jordan River isn't very clean these days, which made it harder to imagine Christ in the murky brown water, but it was still so amazing to see. We had perfect weather that day, blue skies and about 75 degrees! Back on the bus, we went about 5 hours south to stay in the city right next to Petra for the night. 

Petra is one of the best kept secrets in the world! You walk down a canyon about 3/4 of a mile or so and the rock on both sides of you shines a redish tone in the sun. We turned a corner and were staring straight at the famous treasury building built right into the rock. It is beautiful. The whole city that they have excavated is about 1.5 miles long. As you walk down the city, building on both sides are really well preserved and show hints of the city that it used to be. There used to be about 30,000 people living there and it was a major trade stop about 100 BC or so. We got to the end of the city and took donkey's up the mountain to see their monestary which was built on top of the mountains. Up there it was quiet and we were the only one's up there most of the time which made it really cool. It was just such a different feel from Egypt. Petra has so much to look at and there is just so much to take it. I couldn't believe they carved everything into the rock, it just seemed like so much work! Our tour guide told us that Bedoin tribes lived in the caves in Petra until about 1985 or so when a law was passed to resettle them on land right next to Petra. We met a girl about 25 or so who was selling things to tourists and when we asked here where she was from she pointed to a cave about 40 feet above us and said she was born in that cave but now lives in the village next door. We were all so shocked at the answer, no one had much to say. It was a huge reality check on how different our lives are than others we are surrounded with here. We had free time for a while in the city which is something we NEVER get to do, so we walked back up and it took us about an hour and a half to get all the way out. It was so relaxing and with the perfect weather again, it made for an amazing day! We spent the rest of the day driving in our lovely buses to Amman, the capital of Jordan where we would spend two nights

Amman is a great city. The people there LOVE Americans and there are a lot of things different than the other cities we've been in. No one on the street was heckling us for money or getting in our face. For the first time in a long time, we felt really safe walking around at night. There wasn't any garbage on the street and all of the stores and places we went were super clean. We walked around a really big mall called Mecca Mall! I just really liked to people watch, which was always interesting. Most people spoke really good english and those who didn't could understand what we were saying most of the time. It's legal to rip DVD's in Jordan and there is a store right next to our hotel which does a really good job that the professors "recommended" or just mentioned that it was there. The BYU kids basically cleaned that store out a few times over those two days. I bought a bunch, since they were only $2, and most of the ones I bought are still in theaters! You have to love technology! 

For our full day in Amman we went to the Roman ruins of Jerash which were really impressive! They still have a huge stadium and a few temples as well. We went to a show about Chariot Races which was hilarious as we watched Arab men try to pretend to be Roman. That afternoon we went to the Mormon branch is Jordan. The brach president talked to us about the challenges of their region, but it was still really cool to see the church growing and even being in such a remote place in the world. That night we had a ton of free time which made for a great night! After a few mix ups with a taxi driver who couldn't really understand us, we got a little lost and drove all over the city. We finally ended up at our destination of an outdoor shopping area. It was the real deal, no other white people in sight and every women we covered her hair. It was pretty intimidating, but like I said before, they loved us. Everyone smiled at us and wanted to help us out. It was a really relaxing night. 

A short day in Jordan since we had to get back to the border to cross before 1 pm when the Israelis shut down the border for some unknown reason. We stopped at a few Old Testament sights and went to the 2nd largest mosque in Jordan. They have 3,500 mosques in Jordan and this one could hold over 3000 people. We spent the rest of the day crossing back into Israel. It's much harder to get back into the country than to leave it. It was a really good trip and was the perfect length to be away from the Center. Most of us went to bed pretty early that night, the next day was Eliat!!

My paradise! We got up at 4:30 and got on a bus that left at 5:15 to go down south to Eilat, a resort town on the Red Sea. It is a five hour bus ride and by the time we got there at around 10, it was already really hot out. We snorkeled and got to see the fish and coral, but I got over that pretty quick. I spent the rest of the day sitting on a towel reading a magazine and not moving. I couldn't have asked for more! That night for dinner we walked around the promenade that all the big hotels are on and ate at an outdoor cafe over looking the water. It was the best day ever! We all had a good laugh thinking about our friends back in Provo suffering in the snow as we were walking around in our bathing suits in 85 degree weather. Life doesn't get any better! 

We're on lock down for a few more days to make sure that everything will blow over and that the shooting was an isolated incident. We're safe and since finals start in a few days, its a good excuse to stay in a and study. I hope everyone is doing good, keep me posted on everything! 

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