November 27, 2015

Umm Qais

I have so much to be thankful for everyday, and today it was for the opportunity to visit a town in northwestern Jordan called Umm Qais. This town is near Jordan's borders with Israel and Syria. It's not every day you drive and see highway signs for Syria.
We drove through some small villages and windy roads, and about two and a half hours later we arrived!
Umm Qais is famous for its proximity to the ancient ruins of Gadara, one of the cities of the Decapolis during the Roman Empire. From the town, you look onto the Sea of Galilee in Israel, the Yarmouk River which is the southern end of the Golan Heights, into Syria, and on clear days you can see Mt. Hermon that borders Lebanon. It was a little hazy when we arrived, but you can see the Sea to the left and Golan heights to the right. This area is also known for the story in Matthew, when Jesus exorcised the demons out of the possessed men, and drives them into a herd of pigs, which "run down the steep place into the sea," which is believed to be the Sea of Galilee.
Looking at the Golan heights and into Syria. It was breathtaking scenery, though I couldn't help but think that not that much further to the north, there is a terrible war that has been going on in Syria for several years, and there is so much violence and tension in Israel and Palestine.
We went with Tes and a couple of friends, who have a daughter that is between the boys age. They play well together and had a lot of fun running around all day. What more can little kids ask for than lots of space to run and all the rocks in the world to throw!
And the first stop was...
The Amphitheater.
Hello Tes!
Nathan and Caleb at the top.
Caleb and I at the top.
All of us at the top.
Main Street - the old colonnaded Roman Road.
More of the amazing view
Golan Heights
The Sea of Galilee
We hiked around and took in the beauty of this place.

I love the olive trees and they are plentiful in this part of the world. They are a sign of life and prosperity, and many people are dependence on them to make a living.
We encountered some prickly thistles along the way. Poor Benjamin fell face first into a patch of prickles, and I had to pull quite a few out of his little cheeks. He has some red marks around each spot and a scratch from a thorn, but he is fine ;).
We headed back towards a restaurant on top of the hill. I thought this was a sweet picture of the dads and kids.

The highlight of Benjamin's trip was seeing the horse!
We made it to the restaurant and enjoyed delicious hummus, pita, cheese, and meat dishes while taking in the view.

The day cleared up and we were able to see the Sea of Galilee more clear.
Tes had a great time and is enjoying seeing new places.
On the way out, there was an outdoor museum.

I'm sure these are really old columns and something important, but today they were....potties, says the 3 and 4 year olds! No, they did not go in them...whew, but they thought it was so funny and they liked sitting in them :).

The 3 musketeers :).
Visiting Umm Qais was a real treat. I feel so thankful for the opportunity to have seen this place.
We drove the same windy roads back home.
We saw a gorgeous sunset behind the mountains.
Passed the sign to Syria one more time...
Thankful for the day to visit this amazing place!