Petra – Seven New Wonders
Petra Jordan -New Seven Wonders
As you climb out of the mostly flat desert, going up to Petra, the rock formations become more and more spectacular and the views more panoramic. To save on international phone cost, I downloaded the maps for Israel Jordan & Greece. We started to doubt our trusty Google as we twisted and turned our way through the very steep, very narrow streets of Wadi Musa. We had to tortuously wind our way to the bottom of the Ravine and then back up to the other side. It turned out that our Hotel was called The Old Village Resort for a very good reason. It had been re-purposed from a 200 year old Bedouin Village. The result was very very cool ancient decor with stone arches, original rustic doors, but with modern conveniences.
Into The Siq
Due to the delay in Aqab, it was now 2PM, so we wasted no time heading to Petra, paying our exorbitant entry fee and trudging down the steep road into the incredible slot canyon known as The Siq. Much of the canyon is perhaps 10 or 12 feet wide and a couple hundred feet deep. It is filled with tourists of every size, shape and language, all of whom have to dodge two wheeled carriages pulled by horses skidding on the smooth rock floor.
None of this can detract from the beautiful rock formations and ancient carvings and caves in the sides of the canyon. You can see modern block walls in some of the side slots that help control the inevitable flash floods.
After a half an hour or or so you catch a glimpse of the iconic Treasury building that is on every Petra advertisement you have ever seen. Honestly, it lives up to it’s reputation.
The Siq widens here to maybe 100 feet. We wander past the bedouins offering camel rides, donkey rides, and Petra memorabilia. Some of it is actually pretty cool. Lots of stones and fossils . Plain, carved and and made into jewelry.
There are various caves and elaborate tombs. At the first big turn in the canyon is a massive amphitheater. It originally held 8000 people.
A Little Petra History
To put this into perspective Petra was originally created by the nabataeans between 600 and 300 BC. It was successful because it was right on the Silk Road and they bought sold and traded with Travelers. Later on the Romans used it as a center for controlling the area and enhanced the buildings with Roman-style pillars. Eventually the whole place was destroyed with an earthquake and was not really rediscovered until the 19th century.
This is where physical and ancient facts fatigue took over. We had an aching back, an aching knee and a painful hip among us. And after two weeks of ancient history, our thirst for knowledge had been quenched. I did trot a bit farther down to photograph some of the “royal tombs” in the golden light before sunset. But then we faced the climb back out of Petra. We convinced the women to take a horse carriage up and I began the negotiation process. We almost lost the transportation deal due to some confusion as to which currency we were talking about. In the end it was US per carriage ( we needed two) but well worth it. Jim and I hoofed it and we’re surprised that we reached the top only several minutes or so behind the carriages.
Back at the Old Village Resort we had a grilled meat dinner in a Garden restaurant.
The next morning we decided that we really didn’t need to go back into Petra. We did go to the museum and watch the video explaining some of the history. And checked out the shops. I had one of those great personal connection experiences waiting for the Shoppers. I struck up a conversation with a shopkeeper and found out that his family had been living in Wadi Musa for generations. And adapted to the influx of tourist by opening a shop which he had worked in since he was 10 years old. His friend helping him the shop was named John and I learned that the name John in Arabic is yayha. They also taught me some Arabic phrases and I was sorry to have to head out. I even bought a t-shirt from him that I didn’t really want just because he was fun to talk to.
Our next blog post will be from Wadi Rum. Which is a desert area that Lawrence of Arabia hung out in and is now the home of many Bedouin camps set up for tourists. Honestly I could hang around Petra for several days and just climb up all the high places and the slot canyons and would not mind coming back again to do that.