Take the King’s Road to Petra

Posted: December 12, 2006 in christianity, jerusalem

We got up early, ate, and hopped in Josh’s car. He had offered to drive us to the border late last night and we took him up on his offer. He took us 10 minutes to the border between Israel and Jordan. We shook his hand and headed for the security checkpoint. After making it through the Israeli side we walked the 1/2 mile of no man’s land between the two border checks and did the whole 9 yards again on the Jordan side. The Jordanian border guards were very welcoming. Once through the station we had to catch a taxi to Petra, which is about 2 hours from the border. It cost us 35 JD or about 45USD.

The Jordanian desert and mountains are spectacular: vast, expansive desert, colorful layers of strata, and sky blue and pristine clear. We slowly started ascending into the mountain range and at one point the cabbie pulls over to let us see miles and miles of the Arabah desert. After more winding desert mountain road, we arrive at Wadi Musa, the town next to Petra. The cabbie leaves us at the Petra Gate Hostel, which was recommended to us by the folks at the Shelter Hostel. The place aint the ritz but it’s 10 bucks a day and what it doesn’t have in luxury, it makes up for in service and friendliness. Nasser is the owner and, like the other Jordanians we’ve encountered so far, he is very warm and welcoming. We get our room and Nasser has two packed lunches ready for us to take down to Petra. We walk to 15 minutes to get there, pay the entrance fee, then for the next 8 hours are consecutively awed by what we see.

There are no words I can use to adequately describe the experience of being at Petra. No amount of photos or video can truly do it justice or capture it completely. You just have to see it for yourself. However if you can picture being at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, picture finding a 10 feet wide crevice that goes on for about a half mile or so, then it opens up into another large canyon with Greco-Roman temples carved into the rock walls of the canyon. Imagine about 2 miles of this architecture in the rocks, then you can imagine what Petra is like.

I don’t remember the exact dates or details but Petra was established by the Nabateans before Christ, and was conquered finally by the Romans. The area is littered with caves that are to this day inhabited by beduins. The beduins work the area during the day and live in the caves by night. They sell items to the tourists such as food, animal rides through the canyon and local arts and crafts. We bought kuffirs (Arab head wraps) from some and they invited us to tea, then invited us to their village.

At one point Rafa and I hiked up a hill side and at the top was an old Beduin lady and a young one. They were selling old Roman coins found after the rain washes them out. The older lady asked where we were from and I said Mexico and she responded that she had an email friend from Mexico. Huh? Beduins have email? Ok. I guess they keep up with the times too.

We hiked back down and continued to be amazed at every turn. Our last stop in the city was the monastery which was high above the rest of the city on a mountain peak that also had a jet of rock that was called the sacrifice view, apparently where they held sacrifices above the view of the expanse of the Arabah desert, and part of the Dead Sea. The sun was setting now so we had to hurry back down the mountain. By the time we hit the bottom it was dark and we were the last tourists in the park. We saw fires in the mountain caves in the hills; Beduins.

We finally got back to the hostel just in time for Jordanian style dinner. There was an American father and daughter there who were headed to the same place we were the next day, Wadi Rum, so we said we’d share a cab. They were going to stay in Wadi Rum for 2 nights, and Nasser pulled us aside and said he’d call his friend who was a tour guide in Wadi Rum and get a good deal for a tour and night’s stay. We jumped on it and set it up.

After dinner Rafa got Nasser to play his Ut, which is a pear shaped Arabic stringed instrument, something like a guitar. He then got me to play the tabla drum while Nasser played the Ut. We played for a while then I decided to call it a night. My feet were sore from the days walking and climbing and I wanted to be rested up for the next day. Today was awesome. I saw probably the most amazing things I’d ever seen.

View today’s photos

Video on the way to Petra

Wadi Musa outside of Petra

Inside Petra 1

Walk Through to First Temple

Inside First Temple

Inside Petra 2

Inside Petra 3

Inside Petra 4

Inside Petra 5

Inside Petra 6

Monastery at top of Petra

Sacrifice View

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