Puttering Around Petra, Jordan

21 Aug

Petra is one of the 7th Wonder of the world, voted by the world in 2007 according to the Jordain controlled tourist agency.  It truly is breathtaking.

As I walk through the granite mountains, I ask myself could I be a Petra woman?  Well, it’s better than being a Celtic Viking woman.  Like the heat.  Abhor the cold.  Ok.  So, let me share with you the 411 on Petra.  Because before I stepped foot here, I had zero knowledge of the place.  I did not even know Indiana Jones and Terminator 2 or 3 were filmed here.  Talk about being out of touch.

The place was built in 6 BC – that’s BEFORE Christ.  The Nabataeans – today’s  Bedouins who will NEVER be a contestant on Biggest Looser – settled in Petra because the porous rock held vast amounts of H2O. These folks built an empire on trading spices to Egypt, Greece, Indian and the rest of them.  At one point over 30,000 folks lived in Petra and from I can tell, were obsessed with building tremendous tombs to rest their heads forever and ever.  Tombs are everywhere.  The question I had was where in the world did they live.  No Days Inn Hotels or roach motels from what I could see.  Death ruled the day.

Next, on the block were the Romans.  They came in and classed-up the joint with their oversized arches, columns with curly-ques and dynamic drainage systems.  The Christians (Bad-Ass Byzantines) took over   management around 500 AD and converted all of those tombs into churches. How appropriate.  Down with the dead!   Fast forward a few hundred years and the Arab’s invaded and converted the lot to Islam.  They built an important Muslim shrine for Aaron, brother of Moses, on top of a very, very tall mountain. Which, I’m still confused about why Aaron get’s a Muslim Mosque…thought he was Jewish… but anyway…  And according to the Arab tradition, this was the prime place where Moses struck a rock and water sprang forth.  Petra has it all baby –

Next up were the barbaric Crusaders rolling thru around 12th century.  They came.  They conquered. They left. Petra became  a “lost city,” hidden from the Western world for more than 500 years.  Archeologist rediscovered it and now it’s teaming with tourons from all over the world. That is Petra’s back story.

Now, let’s get on with the fun part. Hiking 14 km in 110 degree heat and heat index of a bazillions degrees.  Yes, I consumed gallons of water and only used the temple of relief (bathroom) once.  I tell you this to give you an idea of the sweat factor.  Mom got upset with me about talking about my bathroom escapades, so I’m trying to keep it clean.

I still feel zapped, so bear with me here.

RANDOM thing happened while puttering around Petra. Our group was sauntering  through the siq (split – entrance into Petra) and Eric – recent UCLA graduate – asked me if Senator Scott Brown from Mass. was standing next to us.  What? I swear I heard him say Dan Brown, author of DiVinci Code.  Crazy child.

I ignored him.  Imagine that.  Then, he asked again.  I looked over, this time for real, not for fake.  This Brown fellow played the part of an athletic looking American male – golf shorts and an izod polo.   I observed security, ear pieces and eyes darting.  This fellow is “someone” but is it really the dude who took down a Kennedy?  And, he is in Petra?  Our group walked on and Eric became annoyed.  I just shrugged him off.  I just can’t be bothered, right?

I reached down and got the Goddesses out for a photo opp.  I looked up and guess who is standing there?  Tall, athletic looking dude.  He reached out his hand, asked where I was from and introduced himself as Senator Scott Brown. WHAT!  And, I’m not even wearing lipstick! Instead, I’m sporting another sweat mustache and pity arms.  I introduced myself like I’m someone just as important and I thought Eric was going to pee in his pants.  Senator Brown wanted to know all about the Goddesses.  He died laughing.  Brought is wife over and we all had a nice giggle. The Jordanian security teens seemed uneasy, like the Goddess fan was disguised as an free-wheeling, arsenic shooting weapon from a Bond movie.  Serious threat here. I wished him luck and ventured on.

Moments later, he came upon our group again.  I asked him – what in God’s name are you doing in Petra?  He went into detail about his trip to Afghanistan, meetings in Amman and his next stop to Israel.   I told him, we’re heading that way and maybe we will run into at Jesus’s place.  He did not understand my humor – and he quickly said that he will be in meetings.  JOKE!  He probably thought I was some scary stalker….   who carries a laminated fan of her BFFers in her backpack?  I was happy to see that he was inhaling, touching, feeling and seeing Afghanistan and the other countries first hand.  The WSJ, NY Times, Foreign Policy Magazine and pre-pubescent Capital Hill staffers only can tell you so much.  (I worked on Capital Hill so I can say that…)

Next stop, hiking 14 km up and down Petra mountains… I won’t go into details about the heat, sweat, dirt, grime and joy felt when scaling the Petra.  I’m zapped and verbs and adjectives are not floating freely.  Let’s just go with American slang — AWESOME.  By the way, that’s our resident Ausie, Rhonda, doing some push ups on the cliff. AWESOME!

Oh, I do want to share this.  Along the way, we rested in a Bedouins’ tent.  The woman was 55 and looked 95 – slightly weathered and in need of a strong moisturizer.   She had a lovely generator powered fridge filled with water and diet pepsis.   Perfect.  Her grand kids covered with packed dusts served us our drinks while asserting that they do attend school – sometimes.  They are the few that are allowed to live in Petra and have yet to be booted by the harmonious government.  AnyHOW, the breeze was delightful and it was the perfect pick-me up.

Our afternoon “45 mins” hike or 600 stairs saunter led us to the monastery.  Petra folks say it was the “best view in the world.”  Well, 2 hours later, we understood what they meant.  The stone, tomb-like structure loomed over us like ants.  Some crazy people found there way to the tip-top of the monastery structure. (I could not get it in my photo if that tells you something….)

You could never scale something like this in the States.  Lawyers would have a field day.  Our group was hedging bets on what country the rule-breakers were from.   After much discussion, we decided it had to the Italians by process of elimination.  For the French, it was too boring.  Germans, too law-breaking. For the Ausies and Irish, it lacked a pub. Brits, too unpractical. For the  Americans, why bother, you can’t sue. Award goes to Italians.

There was a sign we encountered that said “view the end of the world.” We asked, “what does it mean?”  And, we translated…Israel is righ over there… Well, that sums it up, huh?

After investing over 8 hours of walking, it was time for a cold, cold, cold beer.  But, it was damn Ramadam.  UGH. As we trekked the last few miles, Natalie and I decided to try out Oprah’s Secret.  You know, “throw it out to the universe and the unvierse will grant your wish.” Well, Allah certainly was not going to help us on the beer front.  But, we Oprah can. We chanted “beer.”  We visualized “beer.”  We tasted “beer.”  We knew there was a bar in the parking lot area.  The question… was it open?  If it was open, then the Secret had two new converts.

Guess what.  The CAVE was open. Cave is the name of the bar.  They served beer, in secret too.  Perfecto!  The whole group gallaoped in – finding our last bout of energy – and ordered LARGE pints. The Cave Bar is serioulsy the oldest pub in the whole wide world.  How do I know, because those dudes in 6 AD used it as a tomb.  Drinking beer with the dead works for me.

I will end it by saying, Natlie, Eric and I hitch-hiked back to the hotel and made it in time before the buffet closed.  Keeping in line with our German and American culturals of consumption.  The next day, I could not move.  Those IB Profin came in handy as well as a pot of Turkish coffee.  I’m still zapped.  And, I’m not hung over.  It truly is the heat people.  I promise.

PS. Spell check in Polish. So, forgive me… Kate!

3 Responses to “Puttering Around Petra, Jordan”

  1. MaryStuart Day 21/08/2010 at 1:12 pm #

    I have tears of laughter in my eyes. So you MUST be a beliver in Oprah’s endorsement of The Secret…..you found Beer! I assume you have been able to use the restroom, by now. I hope so! Spell check and proof reading are over rated…I can tell you are so tired and overwhelmed. I can’t believe your keyboard still works, with all the dust floating around. I know you will miss your friends, as you are in Poland, getting ready to build a home. Good Luck and I hope it is a sound structure, for their sake. Love you, Sis! Ps…I love your deduction that it must have been the Italians on top of the structure. Hysterical!!

  2. Rebecca 21/08/2010 at 7:35 pm #

    I’m with Mary Stuart. The Italians thing was so funny! What an incredible experience you are having! Thanks for sharing. And btw, RANDOM! Fancy running into the Senator like that. Also a very funny bit!

  3. Petra 30/08/2010 at 9:23 am #

    Hola Sista!! I am so pleased you had a good experience at my name sake!! Visiting this place is on my bucket list, so it was inspirational to read about your experience and see your pictures! I’m so proud of you!!! Wishing you all the best on your journey, and I can’t wait to read more!