All night long in Karak we heard automatic machine gun fire as many wedding celebrations were going on. In the morning, we toured Karak castle. This castle was featured in the movie Kingdom of Heaven. The castle was not in the movie because they shot the movie in Morroco, but the events happened here. If you have seen the movie, you will be surprised to learn that Karak is on the top of a mountain surrounded by a city. The fortress was never taken by force. The crusaders were very brutal to the local people. The castle is older than the crusades, dating back to the Bronze Age. The castle was destroyed by an earthquake and someone with dynamite. The castle is being reconstructed and is massive. You can see the wadis (valleys) all around it for miles. After Karak, we went on the bus towards the Dana nature reserve. Along the way, we stopped to take in the view of many of the wadis along the way. There are no words to describe the view overlooking these wadis. When I get back to a strong Internet, I will share some pictures. We arrived at the nature reserve and had lunch. The reserve was an ancient city. As the cities grew, all of the residents moved into the city except 14. In 1995, the government asked the remaining residents to teach others the traditional skills and started this community. This afternoon we went for a three hour hike through the reserve. Before we left, I went to visit the silversmiths of the village who were all females. They invited me into their shop and showed me how they were making silver bookmarks. They had strips of silver which they pasted designs on. Then they drilled holes on the corners and used a hacksaw to cut out the designs. In the end, the girls used a buffer to shine the silver. One of the girls spoke English and complained about her supervisor pushing them too hard. Another girl kept offering me snacks to try; sunflower seeds, pretzels, and sugar smacks. The supervisor brought Bedouin tea, and I joined them. They had me buff some silver on the grinder (I can’t imagine anyone in the US allowing an observer to check out the equipment) which was great fun for them. It was time for the hike, so I excused myself and joined the rest of the group. We took a bus to the top of the wadi and got out. We had a reserve guide join us to show us the way. Bedouins use stacks of rocks to show each other the path. We traveled to a lookout point where our guide pointed out Nabataean caves and a Bedouin cemetery. We then hiked to the bottom of the wadi.  The rock is made out of limestone and sandstone. The sandstone has different colors depending on the different minerals; red for iron, yellow for sulfur. Our tourist police played music on his cell phone to ward off animals. There are hyenas, porcupines, and lots of other animals we could have encountered. The only thing we saw was a couple lizards. There are no words to describe the view during this hike. Wind and water have made interesting formations in the sandstone. Quartz is embedded in the sandstone and I could pull pieces out with my bare hands. The hike lasted three hours and gave a good workout. I have never hiked out West in the United States, but after this experience, I have added it to my list of things to do. After our hike, we returned to our hotel. The hotel itself is over 400 years old and we have a community bathroom. After dinner, we are going to a nearby hotel to use their restaurant area to watch the World Cup match and try and upload things to the Internet. Tomorrow we will visit Little Petra, before we move on to Petra for two days. We will  be sleeping in tents for the next few days, so I will write my blogs and post them the next time we have Internet.

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