Saturday, February 27, 2016

Kerak Castle

Kerak Castle is a large crusader castle located in Kerak in Jordan. It is one of the largest crusader castles in the Levant. Control of it passed from the Crusaders to Saladin, the Mamluks, and the Ottomans. So much history in one place that it's hard to keep it all straight, but you can see each group's influence in the architecture.
Following our guide through Kerak Castle
We had started the day having breakfast in Wadi Rum, after which a truck took us back from the campsite to our car parked at the tour guide's office. We drove down to Aqaba, Jordan to see the town, then waited for McDonald's to serve lunch at 10:30am because our kids were getting hungry and it was the first place that was going to open. After our early lunch, we drove north towards the Dead Sea, detouring along the way to see the Kerak fortress. At one point, it held 1000 soldiers and 100 horses (in double-decked stables, no less).
The only sign we had to tell us about this place. The guide was helpful.
The tour included barracks, dungeons, dining halls, and stables.


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Barracks? Dungeon? I forget.

This one has light, so not a dungeon.
Once we left Kerak Castle, the green fields abruptly turned into an enormous rock canyon that we drove down to cross the Mujib Dam. The area looked like the Grand Canyon meets the Painted Desert. Once we were back up on the other side, the meadows returned.
Satellite Photo of the Mujib Dam around the time we were there.
Note how green the southern edge is compared to the valley.
A little while later, we saw lots of UNHCR tents next to expansive of tomato fields. The most surreal part of it was seeing camels and goats eating tomatoes in the field. I mean, it seems logical that local animals would eat local vegetables, but I had never really considered that camels and tomatoes would be found in the same locale.

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We drove on and it got dark. In the dark, we had a failed attempt to reach the Dead Sea by back roads originating in Ma'in. We followed signs that said "Dead Sea" but either we missed one or they go nowhere. The paved road became an unimproved road that wound along the hillside, and we decided to turn around after the road started to drop quickly down the hill into the darkness because we we're sure if the car could make it back up if we were wrong. We did see a fox though.

Check out that elevation drop! (Google Earth)
We finally made it to the Mövenpick resort on the Dead Sea, but our room wasn't ready. I mean, it's very late at night at this point and the kids should be in bed, but their roll-away beds aren't there. The cafe bar was too loud, so we just skipped dinner.

The Mövenpick Resort the next morning

The next morning, we went for a swim in the Dead Sea.

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