Kelowna traveller Gina Petrovich in Jordan. (Instagram)

Getting over the hump: Breaking down misconceptions of the Middle East

Kelowna traveller Gina Petrovich is sharing her perspective on her journey in Jordan

Wandering between the walls of a deep canyon, each turn offering an impressive new perspective of what was once a bustling frankincense run for the Nabateans many moons ago.

The impressive echo of horse hooves trotting on the rock path and the smell of frankincense and myrrh enveloped my nose as I took that last turn, the turn I had anticipated for so long and that would leave me speechless. I gazed up in awe at a magnificent and perfectly engineered building carved into the side of a rock face. Carefully dodging a caravan of camels to get a better view of the treasury with a small fragrant Bedouin tea in my hand, I stopped and gasped. This was Petra.

Does this sound like an excerpt from a fantasy novel? This description only begins to sum up the magical, unforgettable and sometimes very intense experience I had in Jordan during a two-country visit to the Middle East.

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I carefully and meticulously prepared for this solo journey to a region of the world that continuously surpassed my expectations, challenged my beliefs and sometimes my confidence.

With safety being a prime concern, I took into consideration as many of the customs and etiquettes as I could. Jordanians are more than willing to forgive mistakes and oversights made by Westerners, but extra points are given to those who appear to have made an effort.

As most travellers know, no matter how much you research, nothing really prepares you for the moment you touch down. Within 20 minutes of leaving the airport in Jordan’s capital Amman, I was plunging warm zaatar pita into the best hummus I’ve ever had while acquainting with my driver Firas. It became immediately clear to me that this would not be a weight loss vacation. We discussed our plan of action to highlight Jordan in the 7 days I had before I would cross the Border into Israel.

READ MORE: Getting over the hump: Kelowna wanderer offers silver lining to the unexpected

When you think of Jordan, I’d guess that Petra would be one of the first things you picture. I spent two days exploring the City of Mysteries which is one of the new seven modern wonders of the world. While this place left me in jaw-dropping awe there is so much more to Jordan than Just Petra. For an outdoorsy nature lover like myself, the entire country was a paradise offering a variety of opportunities to get dirty and explore.

The ancient Roman ruins of Jerash just north of the capital are a must-see and (in my opinion) rival Rome itself.

The Dead Sea is worth a day and night. Floating in the lowest point on earth and treating your skin to a famous mud pack are rights of passage for visiting the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Try and sneak away from the crowds at the main beaches (this is where having a knowledgeable local driver comes in extra handy) and find a secluded piece of shoreline to experience salt formations and some solitude.

Road travel in Jordan is an event in itself. Winding desert roads with dramatic canyons and impressive mountains all make being on-the-road rather enjoyable.

Be warned that the regulations are very different than here at home. Just hold your breath and hope for the best.

READ MORE: Kelowna traveller finds the benefits of tours

When we hear “the Middle East” it’s hard not to immediately think of conflict and war. Those thoughts were in my mind the duration of my planning prior to my departure and caused me some concern and those close to me. Jordan shares borders with some countries known to have conflict like Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq, so these concerns are understandable.

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Now when I think of Jordan, the words conflict and war will be replaced by memories of out-of-this-world landscape, hospitable people, and history so rich that the thought of anywhere else comparing is overwhelming.

There will also be a large memory of the best falafels I have ever had.

Gina Petrovich is a Kelowna-based wanderer with a knack for adventure. She’s now sharing her adventures with the Capital News in a bi-monthly column.

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