Thursday, February 12, 2015


After a decent night's sleep, we left the hotel very early to go to Petra.  We also got to meet our very favorite driver for the first time: Abu.   Abu was a kind, jovial and intelligent man who turned our trip to a conference into an unforgettable adventure...and who quickly became our friend. 

Each day was filled with surprise as our quest for knowledge was enhanced by the history shared by Abu and his ability to secure us fabulous on-site guides.  Our first guide was Zaid.  He was our more-than-capable guide at Petra and turned out to be a man who gave us shopping tips (some of which we ignored...), camel advice, taught us about local customs, took photos for us, and offered many alternatives to consider to make our experience comfortable and memorable.  Driving to Petra offered us a view into the desert and the Bedouin way of life.  We saw rough semi-permanent homes isolated in the landscape and, seemingly, built in the middle of nowhere.  We also saw small communities on our drive, complete with their own mosque, but these, too, were fairly isolated from other similar communities.  Our drive to Petra through the desert revealed some remnants of snow from their last "snowstorm", too! It was in Petra, that Alison and I wore our scarves all day - a decision made independent of any local influence except to show our appreciation of the culture.  A Jordanian shopkeeper wrapped our heads with the scarves and, amazing but true, they stayed on all day into the early evening just as tight as when he wrapped them.  Alison's scarf was wrapped more similar to that of the design of a man's way of wearing a scarf, while mine was wrapped in one of several ways a woman might wear her's.  There seemed to be never-ending ways to do this!  Neither one of us could recreate the wrap successfully on our own...yet!

Petra...a UNESCO World Heritage site...entering through the Siq (meaning: shaft") via a horse-drawn carriage was our introductory mile-long journey into an ancient world where both Indiana Jones and the ancient gods of untold civilizations hold a place.  This slot canyon of red rock and ancient history was not formed by erosion but rather by tectonic forces.  After the mountain split, wind and water were responsible for smoothing out the edges of the separated rock with awesome results.  Along the way, we saw some carvings and shrines, as well as water channels.  These channels were carved by the Nabateans to provide water to the city of Petra.  The walls of the Siq were as high as almost 500 feet in some places and could be as narrow as 6 feet wide, making the journey both breathtaking and unyielding, and making this writer feel more than a little insignificant!  There were also guards at the end of the Siq and main entrance into Petra.  Historically, they were there to defend Petra from marauding tribes and enemies.

The colors of the rock morphed to reflect the changing position of the sun and the shift in the amount of light available on the canyon floor.

The end of the Siq, as we enter the city of Petra by the Treasury...

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