City of Petra...
May 17, 2006
I was lucky enough to be able to spend a couple days in Petra so I did not feel like I had to rush through everything in one day. I
was even luckier to have my student ID card from U of A with me so that I could pay the half-price admission (this saved me
$20 U.S.). I know I shouldn’t be proud of this considering that this money goes to a very good cause (doing further excavations
of the city). But I am traveling for a year so every dollar I can save is…well…a dollar saved.
A few fun facts about Petra…
Petra means ‘rock’ in Greek.
Only 5% of Petra has been excavated.
It’s most notable for being the locale at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Upon entering, it almost felt like I was on a movie set. A really, really large movie set.
You realize when walking around that you truly have to see it to understand the magnitude of it. Pictures don’t capture the
different colors that are formed in the rocks. They don’t capture how much is left to be discovered (what they do capture is how
cute and photogenic camels can be).
One of the low points of Petra is being bombarded left and right with Bedouins offering horse/donkey/camel rides and trying to
sell you jewelry, etc. For example, I wanted to sit down with a soda and just take in the atmosphere. But then a Bedouin sat
down next to me. He had an arm-full of necklaces and I told him I wasn’t interested. He then proceeded to tell me about the
Bedouin lifestyle, etc. After about ten minutes, I was getting less and less interested and just wanted him to go away. He simply
wasn’t taking the hint that I wasn’t interested in talking to him any more. I had only one option and that was to go into ‘rude’
mode. I pulled out my ipod. After 30 seconds, he got the hint. Ahhh…at last I could finally appreciate the scenery.
This was the first time on my trip that I’ve been in true ‘tour bus’ territory. This place buses people in and then buses people
out. I even spoke with one woman whose tour group came in from Israel, was spending three hours at Petra and then heading
back to Israel. Once 4:00pm rolled around, I felt like I practically had the place to myself.
Around that time I saw a guy roaming around as well. This made me happy because not only are there very few solo travelers
at Petra, he also appeared to be quite good looking (well, underneath the ‘I’ve been traveling for a while’ beard that he had
grown). So we started chatting and took pictures of each other (he was quite amused by me wanting to have a picture where I
appear to be going to kiss a camel) and then one of his buddies came up. Turned out he was on a tour with his school and they
were all leaving at 4:30pm. So I naturally asked “Oh, what school?” As my luck would have it, it was some seminary in Virginia.
We all walked back together and when telling stories, I would have to catch myself and then use words like ‘heck’ and ‘gosh’.
And then I started feeling a bit of guilt by working the Petra system and using a student card (it's not too often I'm around
seminarians). To ease my guilt, I wanted to know the technicalities to being a student. When I got back to my hotel, I went onto
the Internet and went to www.dictionary.com and looked up the word ‘student’ (I know…I’m a huge dork). I was given some
very good news…
The second definition of 'student' was ‘attentive observer’. I fit that description! So now I have no guilty feelings about using my
student card from here on out knowing that I am, indeed, still a student.
Wow, sorry for the tangent. Back to Petra…
After being there a second day, the Bedouins were even more annoying. Literally 30 different people asking me if I want a horse
ride, camel ride, necklace, rocks or donkey taxis. And this was literally within 5 or so minutes. The problem was that I did want
to ride a donkey but I wanted to stay true to my principles (which were to not give one Jordanian Dinar (JD) to anybody who
was irritating me). On my way back from the monastery (which takes about 800 steps to reach) I approached the first person
that didn’t swarm to me. I talked him down to 2 JD and it was a deal. The donkey was great but I ended up continually quietly
apologizing to it because the Bedouin kept whipping it. They are not very nice to any of these animals and it’s pretty hard to
My overall view on Petra was that it was beautiful but that the Bedouins definitely detract from the scenery. After a while, it felt
like I was more focused on how to avoid them than on actually taking in the beauty around me. Plus I like being in a good mood
when I’m traveling. I ended up developing ‘an edge’ (i.e. getting in that ‘don’t even mess with me’ state of mind) early on Day 2.
It’s sad because I like being a happy traveler much more.
So now it’s onto the Wadi Rum desert. I’m just hoping that this will be the nice, mellow experience that I’m counting on it to be…
What a cutie!
The colors of the sandstone inside the cave.
In front of the Treasury.