Jordan (11/5/09)

After some good wandering in the Damascus Old City (the old market there is definitely worth a visit for those of you looking for a trip idea) and another (less successful and interesting) walk around Amman (trying to find the world’s tallest freestanding flagpole), we spent a fantastic few days in Petra and the Wadi Rum desert.

 While we saw all the famous and beautiful sites in Petra (you’ll have to wait until the end of this entry for the prototypical picture of us in front of the Treasury, from Indiana Jones fame), the hike we took in the early morning before crowds arrived was especially memorable. Hiking up the rough sandstone ledges that surround the rock-carved temples of Petra proper, led to striking views of the surrounding sandstone rock formations and cliffs. Reaching the top for a view of the valley, filled with temples and increasingly with tourists, the gusting and sand-sweeping wind really gives a sense of how this place came to formed over thousands of years and why the Nabateans chose this location for their holy city.


 

From Petra we moved on to Wadi Rum which, for those of you that haven’t seen Lawrence of Arabia, is a truly magnificent desert, home not only to scores of historical tales, but mountains, rock landscapes, and even the occasional tulip bulb.  We took a 4WD jeep tour during which we drove through miles of breathtaking scenery making frequent stops in which our Bedouin guide would point at a sand dune, a rock formation, or a several meter high natural rock bridge and would say simply “climb.”  We happily obliged.  From the miles and miles of sand (both a brilliant red and natural white) to the rose red cliffs, from the unforgettable colors of the sunset to the shadows cast by the equally unforgettable bright full moon, repeatedly throughout the day we turned to each other and talked about how we would never forget it. We ended the day at a Bedouin camp with a traditional meal, enjoying traditional music on the lute by our guide, and sharing stories with the (very few) other travelers staying at the camp. Waking up the next morning we quickly scrambled up a rock formation to get one last view before we sadly had to depart for Aqaba. 

Upon arrival in Aqaba we briefly debated heading straight to the border to cross into Israel but instead decided to enjoy one more night in Jordan.  We spent the day walking around the seaside town and enjoying the view a short distance across the Red Sea to Israel and Egypt.  More than that, though, we enjoyed again hearing over and over again “you are very welcome” from the Jordanian people.  

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