Journal

Umm Qais, Jordan

We spent Monday tucked away in the northwestern corner of Jordan, exploring a Roman city in ruins. The place was mostly deserted, save for a security guard armed with an assault rifle who invited us down dark stairwells and closed off passageways; past wooden board barricades and out onto a road lined with Roman columns built in first century BC.

It was cool enough to wear a sweater, and the sun was setting when we found a hilltop spot to sit and stare out at the Sea of Galilee, the Golan Heights and Yarmuk Gorge. The ruins of Umm Qais (Gadara) were at our back, Israel to the left and Syria to the right. We sat still and in silence, half expecting some hint of chaos be carried on the wind. Instead we heard the rustling of olive trees, the sigh of mountain air and faint cattle bells in the distance.

So many wars have been fought for the privilege of passing through these lands. The pocket of Syria I was able to see seemed peaceful. It's hard to imagine how quickly things can change over the course of a few miles. Or how even in the space of a thousand years, some things remain the same.