Petra

This made the entire trip worth it.

We were meeting our friend here after leaving him in Amman. He was taking the bus to Petra. We decided because we were arriving at different times we would meet up at the hotel after our day was done. That way we could enjoy as much time as possible in Petra and not have to wait for ever arrived later (which was us).

We drove from Wadi Rum the morning after our adventure camping in the desert. As we began to drive up the mountain there was still a bit of snow on the ground. We new the road was open when we left Aqaba but had heard at the hotel in Amman and Aqaba the road to Petra had been closed for two days because of the large snow fall.

As we drove to higher elevations we could see why. This road was narrow and full of switch backs on a good day. On a snowy day it could be very dangerous. The snow had been ploughed but the drifts were about 3 metres high in places and the road was down to one wide lane with a few spots ploughed for pullouts and passing.

We parked the car, dropped off our stuff at the hotel and walked the few hundred meters to the entrance of Petra. You pay your entry fee, 50JD for 1 day, 55JD for two days, 60JD for 3 days. And if you are not spending the night in Jordan it’s 90JD entry.

We got the two day pass but it wasn’t enough. There are still so many paths and areas we did not get a chance to explore.

You think when you get the to entrance you are there but your not. You still have a kilometres to go and what a walk it is. You can see small carvings in the rock down and the water system that had been built. The walk is down hill so when you are finished and tired you have to walk back up the hill. But you can get a ride if you need it.

When you get into the park there are village men with horses. They tell you that you can ride the horse and it is included in your ticket. But the ride is very short, just around the corner and they want a tip and will be offended and aggressive when the tip is not large. I don’t recommend it. Also the animals do not look well cared for.

When you walk you will encounter the Bedouin people who lived (and still live) in the park. They will be selling food/drinks/other things. There are also young children who go around to sell jewelry at greatly inflated prices.

The Bedouin are different then the villagers. Bedouin are the local people but they are also stateless. They do not have a national identity as Jordanians, they are descendent from the people who once wandered the deserts to find food and shelter. This has made living difficult for them with the creation and policing of national boarders.

Just my first glimpse of the treasury and I was breath taken. The treasury is over 40m high and was carved into the rock cliffs by the Nabataean people thousands of years ago. Then entire sight is a marvel in determination, ingenuity, and creativity.

We were lucky to arrive at a time when there were not many other tourist  around and I was able to get a shot like this without people. We stared in awe for a while before venturing farther into the park.

We had no idea where exactly we were headed but that’s a great way to travel and have adventures. We decided to follow a path up the mountain to the high place of sacrifice. Along the way one of the local guides who live and work in the park was walking past us with his donkey. He and my friend got to talking and he offered to take us to his friends for tea. So we climbed up and up and ow. When we reached the top we have tea and a beautiful view.

We learned about the people still living in the park mostly as shepherds. There were places you could see cloth tents here people were staying to be near to their animals grazing in the park. We learned about how the people worked to maintain Petra and work with the tourists.

On our way down the guide offered to show us a back path that had a few more sights. We saw the Lion fountain, the Roman Soldiers Grave, and stopped at many tombs. Then we reached a joining point where a few of the different paths through Petra meet.

We were able to stop and have something to eat and drink at the small (expensive) café. From there we could head back or if we wanted a real adventure we could climb up to Ad-Deir “The Monastery”. It’s only more than 800 uneven and irregularly sized steps to get up to the top.

So we went with our new friend up and up  and up. I felt so out of shape climbing a mountain with a local who climbs the mountains for a living and my friend who plays football for hours everyday. I eventually fell behind a bit and was keeping a slower pace. I was offered a place on the donkey and I figured why not.

So I rode the last hundred or so stairs to Ad-Deir. I was very happy to see a tea shop where we could stop and have a rest and a drink. After a rest we climbed to the top of the hill/mountain to get a view of the surrounding country side.

After it was back down the mountain to get back to the hotel. Our guide offered to show us a different way out of the park. We went through some back roads and paths before reaching a gate. This was the private entrance used by maintenance vehicles and by the Bedouin. We stopped to meet the people in the guard house and had tea. They called a friend and had him drive us back into the village because their small area was a few kilometres away and it was now dark and cold.

We were happy to make it back to the hotel meet up with our third friend and go find dinner and something to drink.

Day two in the park we went together early and went down the siiq path to the treasury and kept walking until we came to the same area we had reached the day before with the path up the mountain. We took flatter path and went to see the old theatre and tombs.

We were trying to decide if it was time to leave and head to our next destination when the rain came and made the decision for us. It was a light rain but cold enough to drive us back to the hotel to pack and hit the road.

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