Not as grand, but Little Petra still has impressive facades.
Iâ€™d like to say we woke up around 6AM Thursday morning, but
the truth is we werenâ€™t ever truly asleep.
It was still windy as all get out, but a gentle breeze compared with
last night, and at least the sun was shining.
The camp was a shambles, but our Bedouin hosts still laid out a buffet
breakfast inside the only permanent structure there. It was basically one large room where all
twenty of our British-Irish hiking gang had slept in a pile after the tents
collapsed. The Dubai gang had driven themselves in, so like
us they had vehicles to retreat to last night.
Sand storm be damned, we carried on with our itinerary. We wanted to start the day by exploring
Little Petra, which is only 200 meters from the Amareen camp site, but we gave
our gate keeper a lift into town so he could get to his morning classes.
End of Little Petra --- these steps lead up to the trail through a wadi to the Monastery.
The forty-five minute detour was no problem
and then it was our final investigation of Nabatean ruins.
It was kind of crazy to think how close our secluded camp
was to Little Petra, because the entrance was jammed with people and tour
buses. Naturally this traffic attracted
a bunch of souvenir and food shacks which added to the clutter. But it wasnâ€™t any chore to slip into another
realm of the people who built Petra. Little Petra
is quite different from the main venue, much more residential and lacking any
monstrous facades, but similarly entered via a (much shorter) Siq.
There are stairways etched into the canyon walls everywhere
and the life of the Nabateans is almost palpable here. It is a different atmosphere than main Petra, which in a lot of
places is really just a massive graveyard.
Many tourists, but many Nabatean stairways just begging to be explored!
Although we were both ragged from last nightâ€™s escapades, it was
impossible to resist the temptation to follow some of the steps, all leading to
interesting homes and cisterns carved into the walls.
One of the primary attractions in Little
Petra is a home where an ancient fresco is claimed to remain.
Apparently back in the day Petra
was even more colorful, with the
natives accenting the wonderful colors nature had already provided.
Unfortunately, I found the â€˜paintingâ€™ to look
like the grand daddy of all Rorschach ink blots â€“ just a black smudge on the
We hiked the length of Little Petra until it dissolved into
a pretty trail through the wadi and turned around. This was the trail we were supposed to hike
the first day up to the Monastery, by the way.
is dwarfed in size by its big brother down the road, but has a charm that
requires checking out if you make it here.
The natural beauty can be every bit as astonishing as the ruins.
Finally sated with the crown jewel of our expedition, we
pushed on to our final destination. Wadi
Rum is harsh, but beautiful country. It
is a place where Lawrence of Arabia persists somewhat like Che Guevara in South America. Wadi
Rum is several hours southeast of Petra,
and for much of the journey we rode the Kingâ€™s Highway. We had probably driven several hundred
kilometers on the Kingâ€™s Highway by now and yet to see a single sign indicating
Around 1PM we parked at the Wadi Rum Visitorâ€™s Center,
having missed the turn off for our next camp site. The Visitors Center
is splendid: it blends in with a unique desert landscape studded with
More tourists and stairways at Little Petra.
It is laid out nicely and
actually has some tasteful shops.
may have guessed that shopping hadnâ€™t been a concern, but Iâ€™ll confess the few
shops we saw were uninspiring.
the one shop here had these whimsical hieroglyphics called â€˜Rum Artâ€™ and I
bought a plaque for my wife.
Next we hit
the restaurant here and before long the tour buses arrived, filling up the
diner that started out with just us two.
Concluding our visit to the center with a brief photo op of
yet another unique environment in Jordan,
we turned around to get to the Bait Ali Desert Camp (only a mile from the Visitors Center).
Bait Ali was not the Bedouin experience we envisioned, just a commercial
tourist residence with tent lodging.
However, we were both a week into the trip, run down from adventures and
missing our families by this point, so we welcomed the not-so-Spartan
Bait Aliâ€™s primary
marketing pitch is that it features the only
swimming pool in Wadi Rum,
so we didnâ€™t want to miss that opportunity.
The October weather in Jordan had been ideal for the
entire trip (with the possible exception of sand storms), but here in the
desert it was a bit steamy. So we
changed into bathing suits and hit the celebrated pool, which was frigid! It really wasnâ€™t too bad after you were in
for a minute, but that initial plunge was a bit rude. We climbed out and lounged about, talking
with some ladies from Vancouver
and taking in Wadi Rumâ€™s scenery. The
sun was sinking low and bathed the landscape in striking red colors. Wadi Rum is a really inviting mix of sand and
mountains where any spot changes dramatically during the day as sunlight
transforms the palette from yellow to red or vice versa.
In the evening we resumed the Spite & Malice
championship for bragging rights to Wadi Rum (I had already lost in Dana and Petra). Our hero started out strong and opened up a
2-1 lead, before Mark took three in a row.
Would I be spanked the entire way up and down Jordan? Regardless, we played in one of three majilis
they had set up at Bait Ali and it was a relaxing atmosphere. The fact that they had a bar probably
contributed to that feeling, lol.
A pleasant surprise was seeing our English-Irish hikers pull
in! After the sleepless night, this
intrepid group had stomped about Petra
all day before being bused to Bait Ali.
So we got to share an evening with them after all. Several were in their sixties and I really
admired their chutzpah. We shared our
last beer of the evening with a British gentlemen from this troop who was 67
and obviously loving the adventure. He
had trekked Machu Picchu, Nepal and other places too numerous
to mention. But despite living in the United Kingdom had never â€˜bagged a Munroâ€™ (one
of roughly 250 peaks in Scotland
over 3,000 feet), so I had him scooped in his homeland, lol.
Time to turn in and we retired to our canvas tent, a bit
grubby with two cots squeezed in. Not
much elbow room and I was rather displeased with the arrangement in comparison
to our Bedouin tent at the Amareen site.
Bait Ali seemed to be a family destination and there were a lot of
teenagers still rummaging about rather loudly, so my discomfort grew as I
climbed into my cot. The cot was
surprisingly comfortable, however, and Iâ€™m sure last nightâ€™s lack of sleep
contributed to my drifting off within seconds of laying down.