Our last crusade....

Petra Travel Blog

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The first glimpse of beautiful Petra. From the chasm towards the magnificent Treasury.

I gave today to Petra but Petra gave me so much more in return.  We spent the day touring this magnificent, ancient city.  Arriving early in the morning we took the descent down along the Roman paved road lined with sheer rockface towering above us.  This area is completely shaded because there it is only about a 2 metre wide gap above to let in the light.  The rock walls on either side are a good 50 metres high.  As you walk along, there is this sense of what it would’ve been like when Petra was alive and thriving, some 2,000 years or more ago.  Petra had no enemies and was a very peaceful city.  They let the Romans in and shared with them their city.  Along with the Greeks.

Just to prove I was there :) Petra's treasury in the morning.
  Signs of both cultures are prevalent throughout.  There is also a bedoiun style unique to this city.  The bedoiuns are the local aboriginal people of Petra.  They lived there up until the 70’s when the government built them a community along with schools and a hospital and asked them to move from their caves to here.  Then Petra was listed as a world heritage site and the Bedouin people no longer inhabited these ruins but were granted the right to be the only people to work within Petra.

The Bedouins look different to the average Jordanian and they are very clever.  Most of them speak at least 4 languages.  Everyone I spoke to today spoke English perfectly – better than other parts we have visited.  In general they are really friendly people who are happy to share Petra with thousands of tourists every day.

The High Court.

Our guide told us of a book named “Married to a Bedouin”.  It is written by a New Zealand woman who was backpacking with her friend through the middle east in the late 70’s.  While resting against one of the columns of the treasury facade in Petra (this is the most recognisable of the ruins – thanks to Indiana Jones) a local Bedouin man approached them and offered them his cave for the night.  The girls accepted and the author, Margaret, went on to marry this man.  She lived in the Bedouin community as their nurse and even converted to Islam.  She raised three boys there – who went on to do four years of their schooling in New Zealand.  Whilst walking through the market area at Petra today, I saw a big poster of this book.  As it was on my to-buy list when I got home, I thought I’d ask if they had a copy of it – and in English, too (would be handy).

The Monastry - well worth the climb. Why must all monastery's be at the end of a grueling climb?
  They did and the young guy I spoke to was Raami – Margaret’s middle child.  He spoke Arabic like a local but when he spoke English it was with a thick Kiwi accent – very bizarre.  I chatted to him for a few minutes, bought the book which he autographed for me and then he showed me pictures in the book where he had grown up, etc.  It was amazing – much better than getting a copy of this book from Dymocks or something.  It was a bit of a highlight.

Anyway, back to the entrance – at the end of the long road into Petra, fenced on either side by high rock mountains, there is the treasury building.  As you turn a corner you catch a glimpse of this massive monument and you feel like it cant be real.  As you walk closer, it becomes larger.

A Beduion stall seller. This young girl wanted to swap my glasses - the catch was she didn't have any to swap...it was more like a donation of my glasses she was after.
  The picture is completed when you are out into the open area – then you are truly amazed.  It is not only the size but the architecture, the design, the innate carving, the many different colours in the sandstone that run through it like waves.  It is the history and the amazement of how it was built so long ago and how it has stood the test of time up until now. 

Moving on from there the walls all around are lined with tombs, some opened and some left untouched.  There are facades like the treasury building in many different parts of this old city – for the high court and for the sacrifice place.  It is astounding to think that they have only discovered about 10% of Petra.  With about 90% of it left to be uncovered by the metres and tonnes of sand, dirt and rubble.

Another view of the monastery. Hey, we climbed forever to get there - there's gonna be a lot of pics of this little beauty.
  Universities from around the world have teams of students devoting their time to uncover Petra – hats off to them.

We climbed up a steep hill for about 40 minutes to reach the monastery of Petra.  It was a hot walk in the sun but in my eyes this was as magnificent as the treasury at the opening.   Once again, almost pristine in it’s preservation that you could believe that it was carved 10 years ago, not thousands.  From here, we kept walking up (yes, almost the Mt Sinai experience all over again) until we came to the place they call “the end of the earth”.  This is a sheer rock cliff hanging over a humungous canyon of multi coloured sandstone.  Well worth the walk.

We stayed in Petra, exploring many nooks and crannies but not seeing it all by any stretch.  Leaving at around 5pm, we made our way back to the hotel, wishing that we had another day of exploring the ancient Petra.  But alas it is off to Madaba tomorrow to explore the Dead Sea.  This sea sounds like it is right up my alley – you can’t sink in it and it is impossible not to float – most of all, they recommend you don’t put your head in the water.  Tomorrow night we are hoping that our guide can arrange a viewing of Indiana Jones for the group – corny, yes but something we are all so dead keen on.

Well, a whole page devoted to Petra.  Deserved.  Will chat later – only 3 sleeps left in Jordan.

 

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The first glimpse of beautiful Pet…
The first glimpse of beautiful Pe…
Just to prove I was there :)  Petr…
Just to prove I was there :) Pet…
The High Court.
The High Court.
The Monastry - well worth the clim…
The Monastry - well worth the cli…
A Beduion stall seller.  This youn…
A Beduion stall seller. This you…
Another view of the monastery.  He…
Another view of the monastery. H…
Petra
photo by: vances