Friday, September 6, 2019

Day 40: The Butterfly Observations

April 9: We woke up for our usual 7:00am breakfast and hit the trail at 8:00. My hiking clothes were still a bit damp from washing them the day before but it wasn't too horrible and they dried within minutes of putting them on. Lama had rejoined our group after going home during our zero day, the first time she went home during the entire trip. I bet she enjoyed her day off, but probably spent it catching up with bills, mail and other life stuff.

Aljoun Castle rests on the hill in the background as we leave our hotel in the morning.

The trail passed through several small towns along the way and included a fairly large amount of road walking. We stopped at an old church--or so I thought! It was the Mar Elias Church, but the only thing left there were ruins. There was a small entrance fee to enter, but I avoided that with my Jordan Passes. The Jordan Pass was the gift that kept on giving. Between the entrance visa to enter the country and Petra, it already paid for itself. But I had used it several more times as well--starting with Wadi Rum and at both Jerash and Aljoun Castle yesterday. Those who didn't have the Jordan Pass seemed a bit jealous. ;o)

But in this case, the ticket to get into Aljoun Castle could be used to enter Mar Elias Church, and almost everyone in our group had visited the castle yesterday. Unfortunately, they didn't realize that they could reuse the tickets and those who had purchased them had already thrown them away. I'd have done the same thing, but it meant if they wanted to enter, they had to purchase another ticket.

Mosaics at the Mar Elias Church.

So a good number of our group decided to sit out the visit and take a break.  I explored the site, checking out the old foundations of the church, mosaics and the views.

From there, the trail headed down a steep hill and eventually arrived at an outdoor mosque. There were walls, but it was largely open to the elements and in the middle of seemingly nowhere. Nobody was there when we arrived so we took a look around.

Somewhere along the way, I noticed an unusually large number of butterflies flying across the trail. I had seen a lot of butterflies before--especially among the flowers--but these would fly across the trail in a more-or-less westward direction. Hundreds and hundreds of them throughout the day like they were in a grand migration. They were small and brownish in color, and occasionally I'd see a white butterfly flitting around randomly that clearly was not part of the mass migration.

I don't know what kind of butterfly they were, but they fascinated me. They were all traveling in the same direction. Was it an annual migration? Where were they heading to? Where did they start from? Did they even know where they were going or just following an urge to go west? Six months from now, would another migration occur in which the butterflies would flow to the east? I'd never noticed a migration of butterflies before. I've seen large clumps of monarchs which I know migrate thousands of miles, but to actually see them migrating.... this was a first for me and I found it fascinating.

At one point, the trail followed a gravel road alongside a chain-link fence and the butterflies, I noticed, would not fly through the fence. They were small enough to fit through the holes of the fence, but they wouldn't do it. They'd travel over the ground then, a few feet from the fence, they'd screech to a stop, hover for a brief moment as if deciding what to do, then fly up and over the fence. I found this absolutely fascinating that a chain-link fence can keep out butterflies! Who knew?!

For lunch, we stopped at a wonderful little spot in the grass bursting with flowers and migrating butterflies. We stopped for about an hour. I lounged around in the cool shade of a tree, although a lot of our group preferred to rest in the sun.

At the end of the day, we ended up in the small town of Rasoun where we would lodge at a homestay, our first and only homestay of the trail. Our group was too large to fit into a single home so it was divided up into three groups. We arrived at the first home located directly on the trail on foot. The other two homestays were... nearby. That's the best I can describe the other homestays because I never went to the other two.

George read off who would be staying at which homestays. Karolina, Gary and I were the only three hikers assigned to what I refer to as the "main house" since it's the one we walked to. Karolina and I were thrilled to death to not have to wait around for a ride to a remote homestay that everyone else would use, nor would we have to get a ride back in the morning which would give us more time to sleep in the morning.

I wondered why we were the lucky ones? I also wondered if my bout of motion sickness when George drove us to Madaba earlier might have played a roll in the decision. "Yeah, let's not drive Ryan anywhere. He might get sick." And with that decided, they put Karolina with me knowing that we knew each other from other hikes. And Gary was chosen because.... well, I don't know. Maybe he paid a bribe or something? (That's totally a joke--I don't really think he paid any bribes.)

We hung out with the other hikers as the first group loaded their gear and themselves into the support vehicles and drove off. When the vehicles returned (empty), the second group loaded their gear and themselves in and were whisked away to destinations unknown.

Ella and Jan wait for rides to their homestays.

Although almost all of the hikers we'd been with for the past 40 days were now gone, we were hardly alone because almost the entire support crew stayed with us. Lama and George drove back to Amman where they lived due to lack of lodging in town--which surprised me when I learned about it. Amman was probably an hour's drive away and they wouldn't get much time to enjoy the comforts of home before having to get back here by 8:00am for tomorrow's hike. I'm not even sure the rest of our group even realized that our main guide had gone home for the night!

But the rest of the support crew shared the same house with us. Dinner felt weirdly quiet with less than ten people around, and it was even quieter since several of the support crew who were with us didn't speak English. I was kind of surprised that someone like Femmy or Faiza hadn't been assigned to our homestay since they did speak Arabic and could have enjoyed more conversation with the support crew or acted as a translator.

And thus ended another day on the Jordan Trail!

Ali gets a photo of a cow.
Today included a lot of road walks

View from Mar Elias Church
I was told this was poison sumac. Don't eat it! =)
Listib Mosque

Faiza is a veterinarian in Amman when she's not hiking the Jordan Trail.

Hello, Basha!

My beard is really growing in thick! And with a lot of grey....
Gary checks out his room at the homestay.


Anonymous said...

That's okay that your beard has lots of grey in it; you should see mine, it's all white!!!!!


GG said...

I don't suppose it occurred to you that they're on to you and you were being isolated with Gary as your guard.
Has anyone tried to "get" you?

KuKu said...

Those pink flowers look almost fake, like they are cut from paper! All the scenes and historical buildings are fascinating to see.