It took us less than one minute to walk from our hotel to the entrance of Petra; the lost city of the Nabateans. Their culture flourished 2500 years ago as a primary stop on the Arabian Peninsula trade routes. Like the gifts of the three wise men, the primary products that were traded were gold, frankencense, and myrrh (and some spices too). As we walked along the gravel path the rock faces began to emerge. The red-brown tinted layers rose up and up and up. We stopped a few times for Mohammed to tell us about the history of Petra. I remember some of it but I was too busy staring at the cliff faces to pay any real attention. Ten minutes of walking and the road turned into cement pavement with an occasional patch of large paving stones mixed in. The mountainous rock reached high above our heads here and formed an almost enclosed passageway. The colors in the rock were vibrant and chalky. The layers of sediment created a mixture of many different reds and browns. Towards the end of the walk we came to the famous siq, which is Arabic for canyon. This was featured in the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. They ride through the defile to arrive at the temple that contains the Holy Grail. The temple used is actually the Treasury of Petra. And at the end of the movie they go galloping through the siq on horseback. Here the cleft narrowed further so when you look up you can see only the occasional sliver of sky. When the siq opens up to a bigger valley you are greeted by the Treasury. What is amazing about the Treasury is the way you get little glimpses of it as you’re nearing the end of the siq and then all of a sudden there’s this huge facade before you. With its carved sandstone façade, columns, and finial top it is quite impressive. The walk from the entrance to the Treasury was about a mile.
After a brief coffee and bathroom break we continued down the valley. We climbed up to the royal tombs built into a cliff face and explored for a while. My dad and I had our lunch of mixed grill since we had so much left over while the rest of the group had a buffet. There was an option to climb up to the monastery - about 800 steps. I opted out of this one since I wasn’t feeling too well and instead my dad and I made our trek back to the hotel. We hung out in our air conditioned room until dinner time and took advantage of the wifi.
We tried an authentic Jordanian restaurant instead of going for pizza, where the rest of the group seemed to flock. I totally get it though, we’ve been in these Middle Eastern countries for almost two weeks and the food has started to wear on us. The food is alright but kind of boring; they just don’t seem to get proper seasoning. It would have been fine if I had been able to use the salt but that was so clogged up nothing was coming out of there without a fight and I was not prepared to battle. Right after dinner those of us who wanted to go on the Petra by night walk met at the Visitor’s Center. So we headed back to the eroded cliffs of Petra for a walk by lantern and star light. It was completely dark except for the yellow lanterns lining the walkway and the occasional annoying person with a flashlight. The stars were beautiful. It was wonderful to see them through the thin spaces between the rocks. We hung back so that we could avoid the big crowd and the flashlights. When we were alone it was very peaceful and quiet. When we arrived at the Treasury we sat down on mats and listened to some traditional Bedouin music and drank some heavily sugared tea. It was just the right amount of time. It was calm and enjoyable and I was able to stand up without cramps in my legs from sitting cross legged. We headed off first to again avoid the crowd. We got back to the hotel pretty late and went to bed quickly. It was a busy and eventful day. All in all we walked about six miles. I don’t think I’ve ever exercised that much in one day. All day I was on complete sensory overload and completely blown away by Petra. What a day.