I’ve been meaning to finish posting about my trip to Jordan and Egypt, but trips to Chicago and Costa Rica distracted me. So, I’ll try to rectify that today.
Let me take you on a tour to one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been in my life. But first you have to imagine driving a few hours south of Jordan’s capital, passing Bedouin tents in the desert.
You drop into a sort of valley, where a small town is perched on the surrounding hills. Your driver drops you off at what appears to be the entrance to a national park.
You skirt the aggressive-looking sales people keeping watch in front of tourist-kitsch filled booths and make your way to the ticket windows. See the posted prices are around $20 JD (Jordanian Dinars) per person. Notice the optional horse ride into Petra, but decide to walk to save money.
Get charged for the horse ride anyway. Watch your husband argue with the ticket seller, who tells him purchase of the horse ride is required. Give up, because there’s no other option. Walk to the gate, and then down a wide, rocky-strewn road (this takes forever) into what looks like a canyon.
The canyon is cool, shaded from the sun and paved with rough cobblestones. The path gently slopes downward and you wonder what you are descending to.
Avoid slower-walking tourists, and think grumbly thoughts about the ones who don’t let you pass. Speed walk around the annoying people smoking in the confined space. Wonder why smokers would choose to hike, since they obviously don’t care about health.
The colors on the rock faces are amazing; my poor little camera couldn’t do it justice. Crane your neck looking up at all the wrinkles, shades and textures.
There’s a line in a song I like that goes, “Now bursting forth, in glorious light…” and that’s what it feels like as you hit the end of the canyon. Light gleams through the opening. There’s a large crowd gathered, and you wonder why.
Then you see it. The temple.
My first thought was, “That is real! I thought they made it up for the movie!”
But it’s very real, guarded by the Jordanian Royal guard.
And oh, a camel. That dude doesn’t look too happy. I’d give him a wide berth, if I were you.
Attempt to get a picture of yourself with the temple. Fail miserably, after about 42 takes. It’s just too big and our arms too short.
Realize there is lots more to see than just the cherry on the top of the sundae. People are heading off to the right. With one last glace over your shoulder…
…head out to the rest of the amazing, ancient fortified city. Decedents of the inhabitants of the ancient city are the only ones allowed to operate inside. Many of them lived in the caves dotting the hills until just a few years ago, when former King Hussein moved them out to open the place for tourism. They still come back every day to work in their heritage, offering horse, camel and donkey rides, selling jewelry and paintings and even selling rock souvenirs.
Amazingly, these Bedouin people spoke more English than most of the Jordanian Arabs I met in the rest of Jordan. I had actual conversations with several of them. They were very friendly, and not as pushy as I expected.
One girl gave me a piece of colored rock. The donkey guy offered a ride to the top of the hill, and when I turned him down, he said, “Ok, but just remember, I didn’t push you.” Another little guy made me tea in his tent over an open fire. Let’s face it: I was charmed.
Ok, sorry. Now ack to your tour.
There’s so much to explore, and not enough time to see it all. Understand why some people come and take 4 or 5 days to see Petra. Decide to hike up a stony path to some “Sacrificial Circle.” Reach the top and feel like you are literally on top of the world, the sky blue, the sun shining, the spring air crisp, the view stretching for miles through the desert.
On the descent, down the other side of the rocky hill, discover a hidden temple.
Swerve around the Bedouin jewelry on every wide spot in the path. Unless you really want to stop and shop. But that’s not why I’m here.
See those colors in the top of the archway? Now imagine how much more incredible it looks in real life.
Ok, the tour is ending. Keep on hiking, if you like, but I’ve got to go.
We took five hours to see the place and arrived exhausted back at the top. And we barely scratched the surface. I would so go back.
Just look at it!
You should go.