Jordan is a desert, if you didn’t catch that.
And like all good deserts, it comes with great sunsets. Unlike all deserts, it also has a massive body of water in the middle of it. Undrinkable, over 1000 ft below sea level, but the Dead Sea is a body of water. Even if you can do sit-ups in it (which I did).
The Dead Sea is so salty, the rocks ringing it end up with sort-of-stalactites made up entirely of salt:
Unlike many other deserts, Jordan also has a famous river running through it: the Jordan river.
All of my blog posts during my trip to Jordan in February 2013 included lyrics to hymns about it. Here’s me singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot at the place where Jesus was baptized:
But for all of that, it is a desert.
And one made up mostly of sedimentary rock that formed when most of what is Jordan today was under the ocean. Like sandstone, sedimentary rock is made up when tiny bits of dirt and dust and ground-up rock and fish-parts trickle down to the bottom of the ocean and sit on top of each other, until the weight is so great it begins to lithify, to turn into rock. This happens for millions and millions of years and its peaceful.
Mostly you get easy parallel lines, because by the time you reach the bottom of the ocean there’s not a lot of things to make big enough waves to matter. But then something happens. The continents kiss, or break up, or a pluton of magma (like a balloon of nickel-iron-mixed death) starts pushing up and the long-flat sedimentary rock rises. Which is why it is shaped like this sometimes:
Though, for the most part, sedimentary rock looks like this. A little thicker in some places, more resistant to weathering, a little thinner in others, more likely to crumble:
Sedimentary rock is not always completely solid. Sometimes it has little bubbles of air, because it was loosely compacted before it became fully stone. Here are examples from 3 different buildings–one near where Jesus was baptized, one on the mountain where Moses was buried, and one in a fancy restaurant overlooking the Dead Sea–of what sedimentary rock looks like when it’s a bit lighter, a bit more porous.
Sedimentary rock can also be fertile for the right kind of plants. Throughout Jordan, in the high places and in the low places, I saw olive trees:
“Knowledge of Nature is an account at bank, where each dividend is added to the principal and the interest is ever compounded; and hence it is that human progress, founded on natural knowledge, advances with ever increasing speed.” –G.K. Gilbert