God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Off to Jordan

One of the first things to learn when moving from Egypt to Jordan is that it is not just a change of countries but continents, too--Africa to Asia. Casey was excited about this as he can now add a 5th continent to his travels. Not bad for a 13 year old.

We left Luxor in late morning for the flight to Cairo where we connected to a flight to Amman, Jordan, arriving somewhere around 6 pm, a little early--nice. Bashar, our driver, soon found us; we stopped at an ATM to get Jordanian dinars--another currency for the collection. In Egypt the dollar was strong--not so in Jordan. The exchange was not in our favor--significantly. But, once you plunge into travel, you surely can't get hung up on exchange rates or you sacrifice enjoyment.

From Amman we had a 3 hour or so drive to our destination, the mysterious rose colored city of Petra. Is there anyone who has not been captivated by the quintessential picture of the ancient, capital city of the Nabataeans?

Petra was a key city along the ancient Silk Road trade route which connected Asia, Africa, the Mediterrean and Europe. The Nabatean people were brilliant, not only creating this magnificent city out of stone but carving an incredible water system through this same stone--parts of this can still be seen today. Considering that this culture was centuries before the Romans remarkable feats of engineering, their accomplishments are super impressive. Often when having the privilege of seeing what previous civilizations have left behind to awe us, it is impossible not to wonder what we are leaving for those who follow us 3 and 4 millenniums away. My hunch is that most of the 20th and 21st century will crumble but that Petra will stand.

We were staying at the Movenpick Hotel which is located right at the walkway leading to the entrance of Petra--a nice place to stay. Bashar met us in the morning and took us to meet Hamad, our guide through the wonders of Petra. Hamad was an excellent, knowledgeable guide plus a professional photographer. He used our cameras to take pictures throughout the day. He knew just where to take them, how to frame, where the light was etc. We ended up with photos we would never have had. For instance:

Love the perspective in this one

Right after the gate, we elected to ride horses down the path leading to the Sig. This seemed like a brilliantly fun thing to do; forgetting that I can't remember the last time I was on a horse--I am quite certain that I was somewhere in the dim and forgotten past. Things went very well and I loved sitting high and admiring the surroundings. What an impressive sight.

The problem came as I was to dismount. As I lifted my leg over the horn on the saddle, somehow my right foot caught in the stirrup and my left leg remained high on the horse--so I dangled momentarily--surely a graceful scene. Eventually I fell on my right buttock with left leg still pointing skyward and right foot still caught--can you picture this?. The guide (horse guide not Hamed, fortunately) tried to catch me at which time he was almost knocked off the cliff. I have no idea how many people witnessed but Ken didn't (thank you, God.) Casey did as did any number of other tourists and guides. Looking at no one, I hobbled up, dusted off and went on my way as if nothing unusual had happened. I suspect, though, that the horse guides still talk about the weird American woman.

Moving on, we walked through the ancient 1200 meter entrance way called As-Sig, which is a deep, winding narrow gorge with 80 meter walls soaring skyward. Along the way are incredible colors, water channels dug by the Nabateans, agricultural terraces and votive niches. It is really awesome. And then, as if what you have now seen hasn't awed enough, you get the first peak of the Treasury--which in reality was the tomb of an important Nabataean king. There is so little history of these people that the mystery of who this person was will remain a mystery throughout time but...he must have been a big man on campus, for sure.

Can you imagine the trade caravans coming through the gorge with camels laden with treasures from east and west and this was what greeted them? Do you think they were any less awed than we?

Once through the Sig there is a wide open piazza type area in front of the Treasury with the expected vendors and guides hawking for business. From there the wide dirt path wanders through the remains of the city that was--caves that were tombs and homes, a Roman theater, temples, magnificent buildings carved into the rock, donkeys, Bedouins, camels, tourists. Amazing, amazing, amazing.

Next: A donkey ride, Visiting a Bedouin camp, and the King's Highway


Luna said...

These ARE great photos. I've always been fascinated with Petra. Seems like time well spent. :)

sandrac said...

What an incredible experience (well, except the bit with the foot caught in the stirrup!) Fantastic photos!