We ventured out to Jerash on Friday. It’s one of the best-preserved Roman cities in the eastern Mediterranean. It was founded around 170 BC, focused around the Temple of Zeus. Jerash (or Gerasa, the ancient name for Jerash) briefly became the center of the Roman Empire in 129-130, as Hadrian wintered in the city. In his honor, the Gerasenes built a monumental arch on the southern walls.
The place is amazing and it’s very explorable. We watched the Roman Army and Chariots Experience reenactment show. I’m not much for reenactments or “interpreters,” but the chariot racing was kind of cool to see, especially in the Hippodrome.
In addition to seeing the sights, another high point of the day was haggling amongst the ruins for earrings by a young Bedouin salesman (about 10 years old) . I noticed some beautiful turquoise earrings that I fancied. I asked how much for the earrings and the next thing I knew, the earrings, a matching necklace, and a chunky silver Bedouin bracelet appeared on my body. The young salesman held a mirror out for me to gaze at the splendor staring back at me while he offered me fabulous deals, solely because I was “such a nice lady” (in perfect English I might add). I only wanted the earrings, but they were $10 JOD and too much for Raj. After much bargaining, the young salesman wouldn’t budge. He really wanted to sell the ensemble, not the piddly earrings. Raj walked away and I followed, despairingly. Two minutes later, the salesman followed us down the path and offered to sell them for $7. Raj said, “No, $5.” To which the salesman responded, “7 is only 2 more than $5.” We got the earrings for $5. I felt guilty (poor kid). Raj felt triumphant. I got over it.
After walking around the ruins for a couple of hours, we headed west out of Jerash to Ajloun castle, a former isolated Christian monastery home to a monk named Ajloun. By 1184, in the midst of the Crusades, the monastery had fallen into ruin, and an Arab general took the opportunity to build a fortress on the ruins.
This place was interesting to see, but someone who shall not be named was getting ‘hangry’ (hungry/angry) so we had to speed up the tour so that we could get back to Amman to get some food into someone’s belly.