The trip to Petra. As I mentioned, Rajai the innkeeper doesn’t travel in a straight line. We left for the 3 hour drive to Petra at 7:30AM and arrived in Petra at about 6PM. It’s about a 3 hour drive. All of it was a wonderful experience and some of it was on the original itinerary.
So our first stop was the fresh falafel place where we saw the disks of falafel being dropped into frying oil. There is actually a machine that does this—think Dunkin Donuts early in the morning. Then there was the absolutely fresh out of the oven bread stop. We then pulled over and using the trunk of the car dished out our hummus/bread and falafel breakfast. Rajai brought the coffee—otherwise there would have been another stop.
Topped up tummies and gassed up (gas here is about $4/gallon—there’s no oil in Jordan) we headed out to Madaba. The oldest map of the ancient world is in tile at an Orthodox church in Madaba. And another church commemorating the beheading of John the Baptist was another stop. Remember Israel and Amman are very close and Amman is on the east side of the River Jordan. This is the landscape of the People of the Book. Then back in the car for a trip to Karak which houses one of the Castles that was used by the Crusaders.
Except, along the route Rajai sees a wedding being prepared. So, after stopping the car and being welcomed by genetically driven Jordanian hospitality and the groom. John is now invited to join the boys and travel back to Amman to pick up and deliver the bride to the wedding party; we girls are invited to join the women in some apartment while they are preparing the food. There is singing and dancing and of course eating involved. The dancing part filled the painful lapses that existed in the Bedouin tent. WE stayed about an hour then continued on the adventure. John didn’t go to get the bride.
On to Petra. Petra is the ancient city build by the Nabateans about 2500 years ago and the site for one of the scenes from Indiana Jones Two. Advice: if Petra is on your bucket list, go early in the morning. We left our hotel located next door to the Petra Visitors Center at 7:30 AM and didn’t return until 1:30 PM. We did a lot of walking. I wear one of those pedometers and in 5 hours I had done 23,000 steps. And that doesn’t include the steps the donkey took carrying me up to the Hillside Monastery. Go before the heat. Wear comfy walking shoes. We finally stopped for something to drink and both John and I were deciding about doing the 1000+ stairs to go up to the Monastery. We were a little undecided so turned to Trip Advisor to see what the masses had to say about the extra energy that would have to be expended in a short time. “Must see”, “Shouldn’t miss”, “You’ll be sorry if you don’t..” We decided that the donkeys could make it faster than we could walk and we had limited time. So my ass followed John’s ass up the hill. Up and up and up. The energy I spent gripping the saddle horn and the reins was outrageous. I have mentioned that I don’t believe in participating in extreme sports. This one was extreme and I didn’t have a helmet. In the middle of the climb and facing the drop-over I realized I had more tread on my athletic shoes that the donkey had on his hooves. Was this activity the basis for “tripping the world?” What were we thinking? And who would be interested in my reporting from a hospital bed in the Middle East? Remember I’m the Queen of Disaster Preparedness so all of this adrenalin clustered in my Brain Stem. Not only do I not want to die bloody I don’t want to die sweaty. It was hot! We made it to the top, our body parts undefiled and after a cold lemonade with mint leaves over ice (fabulous invention) I was ready for the overlook from where I could see a wide expanse of Jordan and Israel from above. We made the return trip unscathed.
The Rose colored city of Petra is extraordinary when one thinks of the façade hand carved by Nabateans with knives. These were artist peoples and it is a wonder. I couldn’t possibly put what I saw into words so you’ll just have to look at the pictures. Enjoy!
As I said “never a straight line” Rajai treated us to a chicken and rice with yogurt lunch and a visit to a Bedouin friend’s cave. The Bedouin likes to collect calling cards and there was quite a collection in his cave next to the Crusader Castle on the hill. On the other side of his cave was a VW that had been gutted and a mattress installed. For the more daring Air BnB travellers I guess. And even if I had asked I’m not sure I would get a straight answer. So I’m left with wondrous descriptive terms of marketing possibilities for tiny the dwelling: “room w/ vu 4 courageous souls” for the adventurers. “Cozy up in Wadi Masu” for the romantics and “Located outside gates of Christian Crusader Castle” for the religious pilgrims.
We’ve been welcomed everywhere and still the adventure continues.