This bost is going to be mainly bictures because Betra is such a phenomenal city that it hard to describe in words. Oh, did you forget Arabic doesn’t have the ‘p’ sound?
Corey and I woke up super early to catch our 6:30 bus to Petra. We needed to get to the JETT bus station early to purchase our tickets for there and back, 19 JD roundtrip. We were worried we wouldn’t be able to find a taxi so early in the morning, so we figured if we were out on the street by 5:30 we’d have a cab by at least 5:50 and still get there before 6. But Crazy Mikey (the guy who works at the hostel we stayed at who refers to himself as Crazy Mikey), told us to be ready by 5 because we might have a really hard time finding a taxi that early. But when we woke up, Crazy Mikey called his friend the cab driver who was at the door to our hostel in less than 10 seconds, ready to rip off the Americans. He still ripped us off, but Corey bargained down a little. We were so out of it we didn’t even think to ask for the meter because all the cabs we had been in before automatically had used it. Oh, well.
We get our tickets and it’s so early nothing is open besides for JETT. So. Early. No. Coffee Anywhere. We notice that this random commercial center is open so we decide to step in. Only a security guard is there, and we ask him if there is any place to get coffee. He says nothing is open and we disappointedly start to leave. He compliments Corey’s Arabic, walks out with us and we speak outside for a while.
He asks Corey, “Is this your wife?”
When a man and a women are together in public in Jordan, they are either engaged, married, or related. There is no such thing as just friends between a boy and girl and boyfriends don’t exist either. Corey decided it would be easier to go along with it, “Maybe in the future…” NOT.
He replies, “Inshallah!” This means god willing, and is one of the best sayings in Arabic. Even if you have set plans – so I’ll see you at 8? Inshallah!
This guy goes on to say something like, “Israel occupied MY land 48, I was born in the 60s and me and my family were kicked out.” They weren’t exactly kicked out, but the fact that he sees it like that is really interesting. We talk for a little more and the tells us to wait 5 or 10 minutes and he’ll be right back with coffee or tea for us. HOW NICE! He literally went back inside and made tea for us himself. He only had one cup so we shared but STILL. THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN!!!
We see our bus pull up so we begin to part ways. He says to us, “I hope you have a great trip.” Corey started to say something to the effect of, “I wish…..” and the guy finishes his sentence saying, “for the return of my family to Palestine!” (El auda illa philistine.) “I want to go back to Palestine like you want to go back to America.” We definitely take for granted that we can return to our home so easily. Imagine traveling for a couple weeks and then being denied entrance back into the US. But, but, we live there! And so is the Palestinian narrative.
After 3 hours on the bus, we finally get to Petra!! We get off the bus and try tying my kufia on my head. I was struggling a little bit because it was windy and I had no idea what I was doing. Almost immediately someone offers to help and ties it on for me. I was so thankful for this guy’s help, I would have melted without this makeshift hat.
It was a 50 JD entrance fee into the excavated city of Petra. I had just enough money to pay to get in and then I went and exchanged more money, because it was more acceptable to exchange shekels in Petra, the main tourist attraction of Jordan. The guy at the exchange place was named Abdouli and he was so nice he offered me cream for my eczema! Who does that?! It was prescription stuff that was really good and probably really expensive for him. HOW NICE.
We were so hungry and I looked for food without meat. I walked into a restaurant and they say they have a bunch of things, including bizza. I asked what kind of pizza they have, and they say: meat, beef, or chicken. They couldn’t understand that I didn’t want meat until Corey told them I don’t eat meat. The guy behind the counter scrounged in the freezer and found a way overpriced frozen vegetarian pizza for me.
We then enter the total tourist trap. We were bombarded by multiple people asking if wanted a free horse ride. What’s the catch? They work for tip. 5 dinar. It’s okay though, we really wanted to walk it anyways. You can’t really tell from this picture,
but Corey and I left our mark in one of the first easily accessible caves in Petra. – that sounds like we went to the bathroom – lol nope, different cave.
Picture a desert. Now picture huge cliffs in the desert. Now picture cliffs right next to each other forming a narrow alleyway that leads into the city. Wayyyyy back in the day the area experienced many flash-floods, and they needed a way to drain this entrance. The drainage system the Nabataeans set up is so advanced for its time. You can still see the ancient pipes lining the sides.
Walking through the city there was always more to see. A model of the camel caravan is carved into the rock. On the right you can see the figure of of a man, with camel feet following him.
We were just casually walking along, and all of a sudden these random people told us stay to the side for a moment. They were filming a movie! I asked them what it was for: an Indian Saltine Dancing movie called Tamid. Or something like that. It was really cool to be able to see a movie being filmed right in front of us. Especially because one of the Indiana Jones movies and part of Transformers were filmed in Petra too!
We had been walking for quite some time, and through the narrow cliff-way something was shining. We had made it to the treasury! It is so incredible to me that this structure was literally carved into the side of a huge cliff. Apparently the inside is very spacious and has great acoustics. It is the first main attraction of the city of Petra.
Since the Romans like to build everywhere they go, here is another Roman amphitheatre. The Romans took over the Nabataean city a long time ago. Also, I went to the bathroom in a cave and thought it was cool. Because it totally was.
Soon after passing a bunch of neat historic ruins, such as an ancient temple and a lot of various tombs, we began our ascent toward the Monastery. Seven hundred and fifty-eight steps later (not including any steps downhill), we had reached the Monastery! It was colossal, and again totally astounding that it was carved right into the cliff. They had to have used some sort of scaffolding system in order to build it, and it’s intricacies and size are unbelievable.But there we were, minuscule beings over-towered by the mass of history above us.
After approximately another fifty steps, we were at what was debatably “The Best View.” This concluded the ascent, and it was time to return back through the one path of Petra.
On our way back down, one of the Egyptian Jack Sparrows (dark skin, eyeliner, pirate-y, there were multiple, not exaggerating), was on the back of a donkey guiding a little girl up the mountain with the rest of her family. I pressed to the side of the path to avoid getting run over by a donkey, and Jack Sparrow pops to the side and says with wide eyes, “I like youu, wooowww.” I’m going to speculate it was because at this point in the desert afternoon I was wearing shorts , a novelty in an Islamic country.
Retracing our steps, we passed the treasury again, but this time it was glowing a rose-red. Somehow in the late afternoon the lighting brought out the remarkable manganese in the rock. The picture doesn’t do it justice.
There was so much off the main path that we unfortunately did not have enough time to explore. The city is seriously phenomenal, geologically and historically.
Petra was so much betra than anything I could have expected.