We are coming from Israel, Jerusalem and Masada Ancient City, and heading along the Dead Sea down to the borderline between Israel and Jordan.
Though it is March, it is warm and sunny .We are passing the border to Jordan easily as there are nearly no people around.
From here onwards we drive 2 hours to the Wadi Rum desert where we will stay for the night to leave the next day for our main spot in Jordan , to the Ancient City of Petra .
Wadi Rum is an Arabic word and means “Valley of the Moon ” or also ” Sand Valley ” .
The valley is in the South of Jordan and the largest one in this region, approximately 60 km ( 37 miles ) east of Aquaba.
The night in the desert is nice , the rose color of the sand is dominating the whole atmosphere. There is nothing around other then our cars , a few camels , the tents in that we will stay and the big bright starry sky which is enlightening the night.
The mood is fine , the people serving us in the tents are very friendly – they prepared some meat and potatoes in the open fire , some salad and rice – very delicious .
They play some local music for us – we are having our dinner and music in a big open tent .The night itself is very quiet . As we are very tired from the trip we are happy to leave and take our deep sleep in our tents in the ” valley of the moon” .
The next day we leave early and our drive to Petra takes about 2 hours.
The ancient site of Petra is actually a site with universal and unique value .
We stand at the entrance of the visitor centre , though it is early in the morning the sun is quite intense. We need to walk about 1200 m through the so- called Siq , a very tiny path which is partly not more than 3 – 12 m wide, through the canyon till we will arrive at the real entrance area of the city and its icon.
The majestic ancient city which is said to be spread about 100 square miles is comprised of hundreds of tombs, streets , houses, wall sculptures, water pipelines, cisterns, city walls , garden terraces ,storage rooms, a theatre that could fit more than thousands of people, temples, obelisks and altars where animals were sacrificed to calm the angry gods or ask them for some favors. The city is half-carved into the canyon and half -built.
Here East meets West – Eastern culture and Hellenistic architecture in Petra are mixed with each other.
The city is carved into the red- rose and white sandstone cliffs and is located at the natural desert canyons and mountains in this area and was once a growing trade center and the capital city of the Nabataean Empire between 400 BC and AD 106.
The Nabataean were a Bedouin traders folk who were controlling the caravan trade in the Middle Eastern region down to the Arabian peninsula as Petra was a crossroad where several trade roads met each other till the Romans conquered this area in 106 BC and made it part of the Roman Empire .
Then the decay started and for hundreds of years the city was lost till 1812 when it was re-discovered by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt , a Swiss explorer.
The walk through the canyon is great. Bedouins with their horse buggies , camels and donkeys are around and offer to drive us through the canyon but we prefer to walk .
The tight road is very beautiful as you can see the nice marbleized colors of the canyon , the carvings throughout the way and while you walk down curiosity , mystery and history are somehow following you.
The sight to the Treasure Tomb when arriving through the Siq is quite dramatic and a great introduction to the region as there is nothing comparable to that feeling when you once see this famous rock- cut iconic very famous temple .
The local Bedouins are sitting in front of the ” Treasure ” which is about 43 m high and 30 m wide. The red- rose colors of the rock and the colors of the camels and the clothes of the Bedouins are awesome .The view is unbelievable …
There is also a kind of echo around which makes the situation so unreal.
I just need to sit down there at the rocks as this view is so overwhelming – you need some minutes to digest and also to enjoy. Wow ! Really great …Some real awesome minutes in life.
After a while of having admired the beautiful view we stand up .The sun is shining right into our faces and it is becoming warmer.
The view is clear , such a nice day to be here.
We just take the road at the right sight of the “Treasure ” and move on walking downwards.
We pass by the street of the Facades , the Royal Tombs , the Antique Theatre which was built for thousands of visitors down to the colonnaded ancient Roman street .
It is stunning what we see when we pass by all these locations – lots of architectural details …. so nice . As we are watching every corner and detail the path takes quite a long time .
We are just overwhelmed in our emotions and findings and imagine just 10% of this area is excarved – 90% is still undiscovered and I can’t believe what is all in that region which is secretly still sleeping here .
Finally we arrive at the end of the path at the Hadrian’s gate and it is nearly 4pm in the afternoon.
From this point onwards you can continue to walk the steps up to the Monastery which is called to be very beautiful as well . There are 800 steps to climb up and to reach out to that location but as it is late in the afternoon already and as we need to take care for our knees ,we decide to walk back before the sun will go down .
Our way back is quite long and we are tired due to the shiny sun and also the temperature. Actually I can’t imagine how hot it will be in mid of summer since even now the sun is tense.
The walk is long , so many impressions we have in mind and we don’t want to stay for the darkness over here as there are no lights .
While our group starts its way back all of a sudden we hear a loud Whistle …
Not knowing what it is exactly and where it is coming from , my husband shouts that I should immediately walk up to the pavement which is a little higher then the path that we are walking on .
Suddenly we can just watch how two of the Bedouins donkeys are running like hell with the heavy saddles on their backs into our direction.
They have an unbelievable speed and I can just see their huge heads and their eyes when they pass by with an enormous power . They don’t care about all the people walking on the road and it seems that just by chance they do not hit anybody which would cause a serious accident.
One of our friends who was walking on the road is springing to the pavement and just in the last second avoids to crash with the speedy donkeys.
We are quite shocked … in the distance we see a couple of Bedouins with a dirty smile on their faces being very much amused … Hmm !
What happened was that these guys were whistling to the donkeys on purpose, knowing that they will immediately begin to run into their direction .
The Bedouins were observing how the visitors were scared and they really had fun.
I think this was their call to the people now to return and leave their site as it is actually their living space .
Indirectly they told us that they are the masters of this region and their rules are valid here .They did not care that you have been a guest or a visitor .
It was a provocation , a warning and a show off .
I would not dare to imagine what could have happened if the donkeys would crash with somebody here as the accident would have been serious as everywhere you have rocks and stones .There is no doctor , no ambulance , no hospital around …
We try to ignore their dirty smiles and continue walking back the road . The sun starts getting weaker .The guys are following us sitting on their donkeys , talking in their own language , mocking at the people and enjoying that the people are really under tension .
You have the feeling that you are in a film scenery .
When looking into their faces especially one of them reminds me of Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean.
They all have dark faces , dark eyes and they look really “wild” !
They ride with their donkeys behind us and I need to calm down our friends not to talk to them- we should just walk calmly back . They follow us for quite a distance .
At the Royal Tombs we recognize a police car who is responsible for the peace of the site .
We approach the officers to tell them what happened and to be aware and to take care .
Unfortunately they show no reaction.
It seems that they are somehow very much used to that kind of incidents here.
One of them tells us that these people are living in the caves of this site since centuries and that we should not expect them to be that “civilized “.
Maybe the Bedouins feel annoyed when people are coming to this region which is actually their home .
Probably they prefer to live here undisturbed in their caves in their own world – who knows …
They are the ” natural ” inhabitants of this historical place .
We walk back to the “Treasure” , walk back through the Siq .
All the way long you have some of the Bedouins around – either with their horse buggies or their donkeys and camels riding them with a hell of speed through the path – watching you…
The darker it gets, the more you are happy to leave the region though it is so beautiful and so unique .
The walk is long and till we arrive at the entrance of the centre it is really dark , candles are lit. It looks great .The people living here simply want to guard their secrets and close the doors of their home which is paved with mystery for the night .
The site looks glorious when the candles burn .
I experienced that Bedouins usually just sleep in caves or even under the open sky , sometimes at the side of their camel on the cold ground while the animal spends some warmth to them.
We just move out of the site leaving this awesome place and its special inhabitants .
For people who are interested in , some films have been filmed over here which is eg the well known movie with Harrison Ford and Sean Connery ” Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade ” shot in 1989 and directed by Steven Spielberg .
We found out that 1 single day is not enough ( we walked about 16 km on that day but just saw a small part of it ) to experience this region and I wish to come back one day to have the chance to see further ancient locations in Petra and imagine how it was when centuries ago people were passing by this hidden location via the Siq and arrive in this wonderful place and to learn more…