This may (I hope) be a short journal. Getting up out of a chair is painful. Moving the legs is tough. We (well, some of us) walked 9 ½ miles in Petra. And not much of it was flat. Lots of it involved stairs. So, I am beat. And beat up. I would like to get this out of the way and get to bed. Of course, getting up might be just as painful on the body, besides it is a 5:30 am wake up call. Breakfast at 6, on the bus at 7. Really? Where’s the vacation part of this trip? I think it’s on the plane ride home – a 3 am Wednesday flight. Ugh. Again.
Today was a great day, by the way. We were up early and on our way into Petra by 7:10. I was a little bit surprised when I walked outside our lovely hotel this morning I was actually – COLD. Well, chilly. It was weird. Haven’t experienced that temperature without air conditioning for a couple of weeks. It was just a little surprising.
NOTE: I am watching the end of the first service LIVE. Great internet connection tonight, so what a treat!
Our guide, did a great job pointing out things as we made our way toward the siq. I am supposed to include some of the info here so we can remember what all she pointed out and why. But, I can’t tonight. If you don’t understand, reread the first paragraph.
We made it to the siq before many crowds came along. In fact, we didn’t see all that many folks all day. There were people around, but not many large groups. It was nice. The journey down the 2 ½ mile siq was great. Every new turn brought fresh ooo’s and ahhhh’s. It’s nice have a new crowd exploring the wonders of Petra.
I hadn’t realized that Bedouins lived in the tombs of Petra until they were removed in 1985. That’s not all that long ago! Since then, the tourist hoards have taken over and the Bedouins are forced to sell us all stuff and feed us and transport us in and out and about.
There is no denying that Petra is a special place. It is hard to describe unless you’ve been here. It’s hard to photograph and capture the size and scope of the walls and canyons. And then there is the colors Wow. It is just amazing here.
The TreasuryWe walked through the siq (passageway) and marveled at the Treasury building that stands at the end of the siq (think, Indiana Jones movie #2). Some had coffee (as is their habit) and some of us just rested and took some pictures. Or shopped (can’t forget that). Then we headed out onto part two of the trek – around and inside the ruins of Petra. This was basically the cemetery for the Nabateans. The culture was fixated on death, it seems to me. Tombs everywhere – some huge, some ornate, some more simple, but all carved out of the stone of the area – with similar patterns and motifs. It is interesting, but also a little sad for these descendants of Esau….way back there somewhere. We are in Edom, by the way.
We saw some things I hadn’t seen before. Some of that because of the continuing excavations, some of it because our guide (Ruby) is just really good. We like her. They did uncover a Byzantine Church (wow….amongst the Nabatean ruins in a now country dominated by Islam…that’s interesting). It was a lovely find and interesting to explore the church and the baptistery area and everything. It overlooks a massive temple built by the Romans several hundred years earlier – and the cardo below. It was a great point to overlook this whole back section of Petra.
With the author (she's from New Zealand)One of the interesting stops of the day was at the small shop of woman, who had married a Bedouin back in the 1970's. What is unique is that she is from New Zealand. She's written a book, "Married to a Bedouin." I will have to get the book on Amazon when I get home. She converted to Islam and lived that lifestyle and moved out of Petra in 1985 when they were forced to live in a village and not in the tombs. She now sells silver jewelry made by the local woman -- and sells her book. What a story. A must read when I get home.
It was then time for lunch. Yay. They had the normal buffet or a “box” lunch. Christie and I split the box lunch. It had: tomato, cucumber (she ate those), pita, cheese, baloney, yogurt, orange….and then they made a bunch of fresh falafel. Now, that was yummy.
After lunch we had to make a commitment – or rather a decision. Either press ahead another couple of miles (up and up and up a bunch of steps to the Monastery and viewpoint beyond) or turn around and head back to the hotel. Seven of us decided to press ahead.
The 45 minute hike to the top took us a bit longer. We didn’t hurry. We took a detour to see a Lion Triclinium. We took a detour to shop (the Bedouins were selling stuff all along the way). And then we stopped to rest. I mean it is probably 70% stairs/steps. And there is not any downhill sections.
The Monastery (bonus walk 7 of us made)We finally made it to the Monastery, a delightful surprise that just sort of jumps at you round a corner. But it wasn’t much of a surprise to our rather inquisitive group. Hard to surprise them…without lying to them all along the way.
But what I can guarantee is that we were all glad to make it to that point. We stopped for a rest and some pictures. Then it was time for the final ascent to the lookout point. It is steep and a little tricky to navigate. But it doesn’t take too long to climb – maybe ten minutes more.
It’s a great view from what feels like the top of the world. You get to see the Jordanian desert spread out before you – and you can look back down on the Monastery. It is a barren landscape, with its own beauty to behold. We didn’t stay up there too long. Long enough to soak it all in and to gain enough rest to head back to Petra proper – and our hotel.
It was long walk back. I held the rear – not always by choice, but necessity. I was beat. I drank three bottles of water on this journey. The feet began to ache, as did the knees and hip. I loved it, don’t get me wrong. It is just a long day. 9 ½ miles from hotel to hotel. So when we finally got back to the hotel, we stopped in the ice cream shop for scoop. It was yummy, by the way.
Our hotel -- it is quite lovelyBack to the hotel room to collapse, shower, and begin to recover. I think we made back by 4:30. So that was a long day. Really long. Dinner was at 7. We didn’t stay too long. It was a feast, however. And the three tables of desserts was too much of a temptation. Well, so were the beef kabobs. It was all amazingly delicious.
Here I am now finishing up the blog as the second service is starting at Peninsula. My connection is good enough to watch. Yay. Can’t wait to get home. We are up early in the morning for a bit of a long drive back to the Dead Sea (and a resort). We do have a stop at Mt. Nebo on the way. It was closed for the dedication of new church when we were supposed to visit. The dedication was supposed to happen for nine years, but it just happened on Saturday. Who knew we’d hit it so lucky. The King was coming too (a significant step for a Muslim president to attend a Christian service of dedication). That says a lot about the state of things here in Jordan. In a positive way.
Anyway, we hope to be at our hotel by 2 pm so we can enjoy the hotel – right on the Dead Sea. Then we tour north of Ammon on Tuesday – come back for dinner and some rest – and we have a 3 am flight to Frankfurt on Wednesday. Wow. This has been fast. But rich.