Monday, June 26, 2006

Madaba for Mosaics (June 24)

This Saturday we decided to go to Madaba, the biblical capital of Moab. Madaba is a rather small town but is very famous for its mosaics. In fact, throughout the city you can see signs that say, "Nazarenes for rugs." "Palestinians for Mosaics." and so forth. They sound kind of like political slogans but I think it is really just poor English.

Our Lonely Planet guidebook said that, unlike other mosaics, such as the ones you find in Italy, the mosaics in Madaba were built as floor coverings and could withstand anything, etc., etc., etc. (We just won't tell them about Ostia Antica, a lovely had-been port of Rome where there are many floors that are mosaics). However, I won't argue that the mosaics in Madaba are very extravagant. I can't imagine how long it would take to tile my kitchen floor let alone to tile a chapel floor like this one found in the Virgin Mary Chapel (25 piasters with a student card for the whole archeological park).

After visiting the Virgin Mary Chapel, we headed out to Elias' tomb--not that they are very far apart. They are in the same archeological park...

Perhaps the most famous Mosaic in Madaba is the Map of the Holy Land found in St. George's church (1 JD per person). The original map was built Byzantines but later a Greek Orthodox church was built on top of it (after it was unearthed). The detail is amazing, and sometimes quite amusing. Note the fish swimming away from the dead sea or the lion, which has been defaced. There are palm trees surrounding Jericho and a wall around Jerusalem. It was definitely the coolest map I've ever seen!

We tried to find the museum after visiting all these chapels, however the locals were not too helpful in our pursuit and we kept ending up at the visitor's center. After wandering around the city for a few hours we decided to just stop and have lunch. We looked around for a place with seats and finally found one. It looked decent when we first looked at it, but then we sat down.

The fridge was one of those Coke fridges used to store...pop. This fridge had everything in it! It had beans and salads and meat and some stuff that was spilled all over the bottom shelf. We ordered some pop and they poked around in the fridge for a while before we told them we didn't really want any pop. We didn't really want anything from the fridge.

Our food took a while to come, even though we just ordered falafel sandwiches. So, we're all eating our sandwiches (we: Me, Andrew and Rachel--a girl who is staying with us for a while) and I start to notice these little bugs on the table. After examining the bugs for a while I came to the conclusion that they were in fact cockroaches. Since I have never seen an actual cockroach, I asked Andrew what he thought. He agreed with me--and he actually knew since he has had experience with cockroaches in Italy... There were also cockroaches on the wall over by where they were making the food, but big ones! Gross! We didn't get sick though, so I suppose it was sanitary enough...

We decided to just go home after that. We didn't want to go around looking for the museum only to end up at the visitor's center again. It was getting embarrassing since the same people were working there the whole day (those tourists are here again?!?). We were really lucky to catch the bus since apparently they don't run between Madaba and the Abdali station that often (at least, that's what we were told). They run between Madaba and the Wahadat or Righadan stations more often.

You can catch a bus from the Abdali station that goes straight into the heart of Madaba for 40 piasters. Once you get into Madaba you're on your own. But don't worry...if you get lost, just ask people for the museum and you'll end up at the visitor's center where you can get a map (your choice of Italian, German, or Arabic) and faulty directions. But there are a lot of cool things to see there so I definitely suggest going.

This is a picture of the Bedouin tents that Andrew took as we were zooming by them in the bus. You may have to zoom in to get a good look at them.


Emilie said...

Great blog! I love the pictures. Thanks for your comment! Say hello to Matt for me! :)

Michelle and Andy said...

I'm glad you mentioned Ostia Antica, that's the first thing I thought of!! You're definitely making me want to go there!

Anonymous said...

Wow, cockroaches! That is really disgusting. Daniel and I are having a bit of a cockroach problem here to. Since the buildings in DC are so close together everyone has roaches. Just the other day I saw one that you could saddle up and ride. Be glad they aren't in your apartment!!!