I am now sitting in my room just outside the visitor’s center at Petra. Teeth brushed. Jammies on. Ready to fall asleep after one long, exhausting, exhilarating, and delicious day. Yes, it was all that – and maybe more!
After a wonderful night of sleep in one wonderful bed, we were up and at breakfast a little (just a little) later than normal. You couldn’t be too late, because the choices here are incredible. Everything is delicious – and there are more choice than even I can select. A little waffle, hard boiled egg, pastries…oh wow.
By 8:30 we were in the lobby and ready for our Petra adventure to begin. Mohammed is a great guide, and we learned a lot and enjoyed even just getting to the beginning of the siq. There were things I never saw when riding a horse. No one is riding horses to the opening of the siq these days. Someone fell of from a loose saddle (from an IGM tour) a month or so ago and was in a Jordanian hospital for a couple of weeks. So – no horses for us. They do let donkeys help with folks after the siq, but only carriages in the siq.
We had a nice stroll through the siq. It’s a great day, cool and the sky a deep blue. Perfect for a day in Petra. The Treasury was spectacular (as usual). There was quite a crowd milling around when we got there – but not too bad for some good pictures. They have done some excavating at the base of the Treasury and found a couple of more tombs down there – which were filled with water now. Mohammed said they’d like to do some digging in front of the Treasury – and maybe figure out what the real use of the Treasury was. That would be nice.
The Naboteans were certainly consumed with death. Everything we saw was a tomb of some sort, carved into the sandstone walls lining the canyons and open spaces. They are amazing. I wonder if they were so consumed with death because of a great fear of death which may have permeated their culture. Tombs. Tombs. Tombs. And not a sign of housing – except for a few rock foundations.
We had a “box lunch” for $9 just before the Hike Two was to begin. It was yougurt (unsweetened), tomato, cucumber, pita, baloney slices, packaged cheese….hmm, think that’s it. It was just fine – and a lot cheaper than the full lunch buffet, which we for sure didn’t need.
Soon, the seven of us left (Kathy, Bryant, Jeff, Erik, Kelly, Seanna, and me) were off on our 980 step walk up to the monastery – and then viewpoint. It is steps most of the way, but many of them are so old they are worn thin and covered with a thin layer of sand today. So it was a bit slippery at times – and up, up, up. The canyon and wilderness are beautiful. It’s a great hike.
We got to the Monastery in about 35 minutes – maybe a little sooner. Wasn’t too bad, but it was tiring. We hung around a bit at the Monastery. We were tired. Well, I was. It is a lot like the Treasury building at the end of the siq, so it is a bit of a surprise to those doing this for the first time.
We were ready for the final ascent. There are actually two paths to take – so we took the time to take them both. One is to the highest point. It is such an amazing view of the wilderness. You can see Mt. Hor (tomb of Aaron) on a distant hill. We went down that peek and then over to one a little lower but farther out. From there you get a view of the lower Jordan Valley – and the “grand canyon” of Jordan. It is desolate and beautiful.
We hung around up there for a while – then headed back “home.” It was a long hike back through all the same territory. It was nice going downhill, but the knees to get weary. The light had changed the scenery most all of the way – and by the time we got to the Treasury, it was clearly now a beautiful shade of rose. Just beautiful. We enjoyed another round of pictures – of course.
Then we began the final surge. Out the siq, and up the last path to the entrance. Our hotel, right outside the visitor’s center, was a sight for sore eyes – and really sore feet. We walked at least 11 miles today all total. And my feet still feel the pain of that venture. But I would do it again in a heartbeat. It’s a great way to see Petra and the surrounding landscape.
Came back for Swiss ice cream in the lobby of the hotel. Shower. Picture uploading. Dinner. There were not nearly as many groups tonight (the Europeans came later) so we had the dining room to ourselves at 7. And the food was great. They grilled steaks for us – plus had chicken, lamb, and more choices than even I could taste. There was a cheese bar and a double-sided salad bar. Desserts in two places. Do I need to say that I am stuffed.
Some of us swapped pictures with airdrop after dinner – then I almost had to crawl up to the room and get ready for bed. I got some great pictures of dinner – but they will have to wait until tomorrow night to upload to the website. I just don’t have the energy – and want to get to bed.
It’s been a great day. Another start a bit later tomorrow – we have to be in the lobby at 8:30. We are basically just driving to the next hotel, with not much on the itinerary to see. We are all exhausted, so a quiet day and a swim in the Dead Sea again is just what the doctor ordered. Tonight is our last full night of sleep. We will be leaving at 4:40 am on Thursday for the airport and that long ride home. Can’t wait for that journey to be here and to end. There’s no place like home. Even Israel.