The Magnificent lost city of Petra, Jordan:
Where do I begin? If you've had both the pleasure and the fortunate opportunity to visit Petra, then what I'll share will elicit fond memories; if not, like I, an unimaginable journey into a land made for a movie set (Indiana Jones) and fairy tales will be left to your own imagination:
The lost city of Petra is now considered one of the 7 great wonders of the world. Once there, that claim will be of no surprise; In Greek, the name "Petra" means rock. Petra is also known as the “Rose-Red City”, a name coming from the wonderful color of the rock from which the structures are built. It's not known how old the actual city of Petra is but the starting and agreed time by scholars date back 2000 years ago and was built by the Nabataeans.
Once you arrive, you'll pay 50 dinars per person for entrance ($1 is equal to 1.32 dinars). Be clear, you'll need several days for this journey to truly appreciate Petra because of its sheer size, intricate details to be surveyed and is equally as impressive in the evening as it is during the day; at night, the view from Ad-Dier (Monastery), the highest point in Petra is breathtaking during sunset and I imagine a well-planned destination for any soon to be groom looking to cease an opportunity for his future bride, where a “yes” is surely guaranteed.
Tiny details make huge differences; Dressing and preparation are imperative; sun screen, water, hiking shoes, hats/umbrella, loose fitting clothing are essential (temperatures easily reach the low 100's by noon). I encourage you to start your visit by 8 am when the sun is not as brutal.
Once you start the 1/4 mile walk to the Siq gateway (Bab Al Siq), you'll be approached by men on horses (yes, think of Indiana Jones) that are determined and quite assertive in insisting that you ride with them to the Siq; A few things to consider-they are handsome but more importantly, if you're not extremely fit or may have health issues, you may want to consider this as an option. I suggest an agreed payment plan prior to your ride as everything is negotiable (tipping is still expected and left to your discretion). Again, this journey, although captivating and likely the most majestic and beautiful adventure you'll likely be on is not for someone that is out of shape and physically not capable of being in the hot sun while walking for hours. If chosen as an option, only take this ride to the beginning of the Siq. first communion veils
Once you enter the Siq, the narrow gorge leads you into Petra. The Siq resulted from a natural splitting of the mountain and is 1.2 km long (do your own conversion). Have your camera at "ready", for the views you’ll witness are like nothing you’ve seen or could imagine.
At the end of the Siq, your walk will lead you into Petra where this hidden city emerges and squarely faces you with "The Treasury" (Al Khazna). At first glance, I may have used the word “Amazing” with frequency, as I stood in awe for several moments. It's said that inside The Treasury, Pharaoh's treasure is buried there.
Once there, and after a quick recovery from disbelief, you'll quickly be greeted by the men and children of the Bedouin village (they reside within the caves of Petra). Their presence for me quickly created a fascination of contradictions...the strange marriage between Bedouin culture and the influence of Western tourism left me slightly perturbed (I'll leave that for another time). Regardless, the Bedouin’s are a sweet and kind people, as all, were on the hustle, selling their wares and offering you guided tours, via donkey and camel, as their income and lively hood are exclusively dependent upon your generosity and purchasing stamina.
With relentless, but thoughtful pursuit, be prepared for this inevitable stand-off, that in the end, you’ll likely lose:
Ok, I'll digress for a moment; Take my long view being offered and take the donkey ride for a series of the reasons-your journey hasn't seen 5% of Petra yet and not to mention the 4 plus miles that are still ahead; you’ll thank me later as you remember this moment while you begin your financial support to this amazing community.
We decided on Omar, a young, charming 18-year-old Bedouin young man; jet black hair, with pronounced dark eyeliner, carefully crafted around his eyes that accentuated his hazel eyes and certainly would have his way by just flashing a smile, became our chosen guide and in the end, someone I now call a friend.
This story could quickly pivot and be about Omar as I found speaking with him captivating. His youthful energy and innocence left me humbled knowing that whatever discomfort regarding the heat, slight hunger and a constant need to rehydrate I may suffer momentarily, I’d be leaving and eventually staying in a room and a soft bed and he, to a cave to start this process all over again the next day.
Pictured with me, along with his two donkeys named Shakira and Jack (fill in the rest yourself), we started the long journey to Ad-Deir (Monastery) and the 998 steps that follow. Along the journey, Omar pointed out the different structures and points of interest easily overlooked without his presence and knowledge. Omar was sharp and alert as he was ready to please at every beck and call.
Carefully considered by the Bedouin and I imagine with some governing oversight, you’ll find their entrepreneurial clever, timely; well-placed shops throughout your travel will include souvenirs, water, coffee, toilets, and wi-fi access for communication to the outside world and for those eager to share selfies and pictures that look like postcards. If you don’t have “What’s App” you likely don’t have a passport. I found this to be the best form of communication via texting and calling anyone who also had the app.
I'm going to stop here and share more in another post-Enjoy!