Our last crusade....
Petra Travel Blog› entry 6 of 8 › view all entries
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.