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Embedded Photos: 1.Colonnade Street 2.Melting Facade 3.Petra Taxi
Two Years & Twice Around the World...  

Jordan Flag JORDAN


February 20. PETRA  After such a long first day we just didn't have the gumption to get up early and head back into Petra.  We had the hotel drive us to the entrance by about 11:00.  It was a perfect day with bright blue skies and warm sun.  The day before had been partly sunny but the cloudy moments had been so cold that we had to keep moving to stay warm.  In this ideal weather we just longed for a place to enjoy the sun.  We walked through the Siq, still as impressive as the first time, and made our way out of the Outer Siq where we climbed the East Cliff and began exploring some of the monuments.  Wandering around we found a long slanted plateau that jutted out into the valley, overlooking the large amphitheater.  Petra, JordanWe stretched out across the warm rock, looking up at the row of imposing facades of Petra's Royal Tombs until we dozed off.  As we came around and realized the day was getting away from us we rousted ourselves from our idyllic spot and continued our investigation of the eastern cliff.

The colors of Petra are spectacular and in some areas they blending of colors looks almost unnatural.  A Sinai rose finch with his rose colored plumage hopped from place to place so perfectly suited to his environment that he looked as though he must have risen right up out of the earth.  As the cliff started to bend north the most impressive facade of the east cliff stood towering over the valley, a multiple storied tomb-temple with a large colonnade forecourt supported by arched vaults.  It once held the bodies of three important people but was later converted into a major church.   As we approached the stairs up to the Urn Tomb we encountered a row of souvenir vendors beckoning us to come look at their stuff.  It all looked pretty much the same and was basically just a collection of unappealing plastic and metal jewelry.  The stalls continued right up onto the front of the facade but the biggest shock came at the massive shop that was wedged in under the eaves of one side of the monument's forecourt. This looked like the "official" souvenir shop and was probably meant to be obscured in its tucked away location but it couldn't help but detract from the feel of the place.  The stall across from the Treasury had been far less intrusive.   It was disappointing and after two weeks of being brow beaten by people in Egypt we just had no patience for people peddling kitschy crap.

Petra, JordanThe High Place of Sacrifice stood on the top of the opposite cliff and by taking the back route to the top we hoped to escape the touristy souvenir stalls, kids begging for "bon bons" and men selling camel or donkey rides.  We passed a few more interesting temples along the way but, thankfully, no more vendors.  There weren't enough tourists yet to bring the traffic to a high enough level. It was a good long climb, started by some harrowing stairs, and the serenity was very nice.  However, when we reached the top we were confronted with another tea stall and more souvenir vendors.  As I climbed up to the monument I felt myself saying "Please leave me alone." under my breath as two women proceeded to follow me.  One was dressed in all black and had a veil over her face but that didn't make her any less persistent.  I stopped and pretended to take in the view so they would pass me.  She greeted me with "How are you?!" and I replied but just kept my back turned and they continued to the top.  I had hoped for a dramatic sacrificial altar that overlooked the steep valley below but found a cloth full of tourist garbage strewn out along the edge of the monument and three local women sitting on the altar as they chatted up a male tourist.  Fed up with all of this we just kept going to the point of the plateau where we found yet another stall full of the very same stuff.  The male tourist came not long after with the woman dressed in black in  hot pursuit.  He was trying to be polite as she headed him off in nearly every direction. I turned to see her black gown blowing in the wind as she stood on the very tip of the cliff so she could face him and maintain their conversation.  He was trying to get away and as he turned to go she gave him directions to get back and added "Just past my store. You can take a look."  That is really all that it was about.  

We headed down the opposite side of the mountain along a more gradual set of stairs.  One section of old stairs was so badly eroded that it was more of a ramp.  People had beenCamel, Petra, Jordan making this climb since before the birth of Christ.  It was mind boggling to think about the expanse of history that this place covered and it was hard not to wonder how the people who once lived her would have felt about souvenir vendors cluttering their most sacred of places and tourists hopping from tomb to tomb.

It was the second day that we'd gone all day long without anything to eat and we were pretty well famished.  We'd seen a pizza place not far from the visitors' center and feeling the need for a change in food we stopped there to eat.  It was surprisingly good.  The restaurant called our hotel to come pick us up.  There were always about four young guys hanging around the hotel.  Once we suspected was related to the woman who checked us in; her son perhaps.  Another helped with the restaurant and cleaned rooms but the other two just sort seemed to be hanging out. It was one of these guys, in his pick up truck, that came to collect us. He'd brought along the guy who cleaned rooms so it didn't look we would all fit but the second guy got out and stood on the back of the truck while Rob and I squeezed in the front with the driver.  The back of the truck was built up like a construction worker's truck with a high metal rail around the top.  Our man at the back was standing on the bumper and hanging onto this rail with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth as he mumbled a song and bounced up and down to keep warm. It was bitter cold so I'm not sure how he managed to keep hold.  

Rob had cleaned out the crud encrusted shower head in our bathroom, the result of lengthy mineral buildup, and we hopped in as soon as we got  back.  It was our first real shower in days!  


GREECE Athens Jan 27-Feb 4

EGYPT Cairo Feb 4 Feb 5 Feb 6 Feb 7 Aswan Feb 8 Feb 9 Feb 10 Luxor Feb 11 Feb 12 Feb 13 Feb 14 Feb 15 Nuweiba Feb 16-17

JORDAN Petra Feb 18 Feb 19 Feb 20 Feb 21 Amman Feb 22 Feb 23-24 Feb 25 Feb 26 Feb 27 Feb 28 Feb 29-Mar 1 Dead Sea Mar 2 Mar 3

ISRAEL Eilat Mar 4

EGYPT Cairo Mar 5 Mar 6 Mar 7 Mar 8

GREECE Athens Mar 9 Santorini Mar 10 Mar 11 Mar 12-13 Crete Mar 14 Mar 15-16 Mar 17-21 Athens Mar 22