Friday, November 2, 2007

Petra, The Red Rose city carved in rock.....

Thursday morning found us pretty well rested, after a wonderful dinner and evening in Petra. There were several lively Spades games going on in the lobby last evening, but everyone was up and ready for our five mile walk thru Petra at 8 am.

Now, Petra (the Latin word for "rock") is a city carved entirely out of rock around the early 1st century by the Nabateans. It was recently voted as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. To enter, one must walk thru the "Siq" which is a natural, narrow rock passageway about one mile long. Many of the group chose to ride part of the way in on horseback, being led along by the Bedouin men. The first majestic "building" facade is known as The Treasury and is the one made famous in the movie "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom". All of the structures are carved by hand in the classic Roman style with Corinthian columns, in the usual elaborate manner. The interior "rooms" however, are very plain, with no carving, but the beautiful rose and rainbow colors of the rock, due to the mineral deposits in the rocks are plainly visible. Some of the most interesting were in the bathrooms!

Many of the group opted to ride part of the way out in a camel caravan! We hopped (well, not exactly "hopped", more likely "struggled") ourselves onto the camels, and rode up the hills to the Treasury facade, where we resumed our walk thru the Siq and returned to our hotel to board the bus for Amman. The camels were led by Bedouin boys, one of which was named Bilan. He spoke rather good English and told us that he was "born in the cave". He was about 10 years old, and said that he went to the Bedouin village school on the other side of the "mountain". He wore the head garb of the Royal Jordanian army, which is the red and white pattern, reminiscent of our red-checked gingham table cloth patterns!

Needless to say, we all have a new appreciation for the "washing of the feet", after all the time we've spent walking thru the dusty desert and cities here! There is a constant fine powder of dust on your feet and body as you travel. But it is ALL good!!

This was our last bus ride thru the desert for our group, so we enjoyed our time chatting and reviewing our experiences of the past 11 days.

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