Sorry it’s taken so long to post. I sometimes think the day-to-day stuff (you know…my job!!) isn’t all the interesting but from your emails, it sounds like you might be interested. But that’s for another post.
Petra Baby!!! I’ve been wanting to visit Petra since my early teens. The only thing that can ever top it would be the pyramids…and that’s coming! Since I was about 12 or 13 I’ve been reading about ancient cultures. Egypt and the pyramids were my main attraction but as you learned more about the pharaohs, etc., you quickly realized the rich history all over the Middle East.
Then Stephen Spielberg started this little series of films. You might have heard of them. The Indiana Jones films made me yearn with desire to visit some of the locations. Two summers ago, I visited Venice, Italy. Ahhhh, Venice! This past weekend it was Petra, Jordan.
Now I do know a thing or two about film making so I was not expecting to see the Cave of Winds, the Leap of Faith, etc. I was fully aware that it was only the exterior of Petra’s Treasury that was used. That did not diminish my anticipation one bit! I was going to see, touch and walk in both the Nabataean and Indie’s footsteps. (Not to mention the original James Bond’s footsteps as well)
I will apologize in advance if you think there are too many pictures. Deal with it!! LOL. I’ve done my best to cut them down in numbers but should you still find them too numerous, please don’t feel you have to look at them all. I realize this is my dream and not necessarily yours.
I will also try not to give you too much history. My guide has so much knowledge and stories that he was, at time, as entertaining and enthralling as the Petra. And please, please, please forgive me if I screw up dates and/or facts. I’m doing this by memory and it has already been over 24 hours!
It’s a two hour drive from Aqaba, where I stayed in Jordan, to Petra. Its flat desert with mountains in the distance for the first hour and then the climb starts. This was my first surprise. Petra is 1,350 metres above sea level. So not only is it in the middle of the desert, very, very, very hot but it’s also way up there where the amount oxygen is much less than what I’m used to. I thought since Taif, Saudi Arabia is 1,600 metres above sea level, I was all set. Well…it’s much hotter in Petra and, somehow, everything seemed to be uphill…both ways!!!
Surprise #2. The place is HUGE! Some 40 square kilometres! In the desert! The main road where the majority of the ‘discovered’ sites are on is about 4-5 kilometres long. I only had time (and energy) for half that. You can rent horses, burros, mules, camels or horse drawn buggies to get to certain locations. I was dead set against using any of them.
As you approach Petra, from the only road in or out, there are some great vantage points to see the desert. This is where you get the full impact of how isolated these people were. This was by design of course since there is only one way into Petra…through the Siq. (fissure in the rock) Those of you who have seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, will be familiar with the Siq.
It is about 1km long of the most breathtaking, earthquake create passage you will ever walk through. Sometimes 100 metres high, sometimes 2-3 metres wide, it makes its way to the entrance of Petra. Every turn reveals new beauty. And…finally, after some 40 years of anticipation, you catch your first glimpse of the Treasury through a sliver in the Siq ahead. I stopped dead in my tracks and just stared in wonder and then started taking more pictures than even I will ever use! Every step closer revealed more and more of one of the new 7 Wonders of the World. Then you leave the Siq and you are standing in front of it. All 40 plus metres of hand-carved-directly-into-the-face-of-the mountain splendour. Yeah, I’m over-doing it…but I’m not!!
You can no longer go inside for safety reasons but it didn’t matter. The pictures will never do it justice but I tried. I walked around taking picture after picture, sharing a knowing nod to people around me doing the same thing. Everywhere you could hear John Williams’ now famous theme music from the films being hummed by many. Some softly, some not so much! I took advantage of a bench and sat down (that felt very good) and just stared at it. I was finally here.
Was it a good decision to walk into the desert where the temperature was hovering in the very high 30s? (and this is the fall) Was it wise to walk almost 5km on sand, cobble-stone, rocks and the odd gift from the horses, camels, etc.? Was it a good idea to pay 5 dinars for a horse-ride back to the start after running out of energy and will power 1 km from the end? (Yes, that was a damn good idea! My tribute to Indiana Jones, if you will).
Well, as the old Grail Knight (played beautifully by Robert Eddison) said to Indie after he drank from the right cup, “You chose…wisely!”
Thank you so much for your emails. They really are great to read. It’s a nice way to stay touch with my friends.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the pictures.