In the distance an Imam breaks the morning silence with his first prayer for the day while the sun starts to color the mountains in shades of red and orange. Days begin early here in Jordan, and better so as I have a long drive ahead of me. The Lost city of Petra is awaiting me.
At first, the mountains seem void of any life. When you leave the port town of Al Aqaba, soon impressive ridges of the mountains protrude from the desert valley like ancient fossils. I wonder if there are any people living in the many caves that dot the sierras when I see a few lonesome goats grazing. Clouds hang low over the striped mountains, like the smoke billowing from the Arab mans mouth as he enjoys his hookah pipe with his morning tea on the side of the road.
The dual highway that runs through the Al Wadi Rum desert stretches on like a busy black conveyer belt, carrying trucks and old Toyota pickups to and fro. In the distance there are spectacular sand stone formations, weathered by time and wind. I imagine Lawrence of Arabia straddling a horse in Bedouin attire. After all, this is where it was filmed in the 1960’s.
It is totally acceptable, and most often expected, to barter the price of most souvenirs you buy throughout the Arab world. I can’t help but smile to myself when I see a tourist being ripped off at one of the pre viewpoints souvenir shops. Never take out all of your money when you are in the process of bargaining, you are sure to set yourself a trap.
The Nabataeans did an exceptional job at hiding the city of Petra. Not even at the mountain pass’s highest point are there any glimpses of this man made wonder. You have to descend into the belly of the remarkable Wadi Musa Mountains to reach this marvel.
Of all the roads in the world, the narrow Siq that leads to the Treasury could be rated among the top five most beautiful. Easily. It tapers along sheer curved sandstone walls, smeared with purples and reds and patterns carved by a river long since vanished. I found myself spiraling down the Siq, dodging donkeys, camels, horse and carts adorned with colorful Arabic apparel.
The first glimpse you have of the iconic Treasury, through the last of the many curves along the most beautiful road, leaves one breathless and at a total loss for words. I hear people trying to encapsulate its splendor in remarks, but all that comes out is “Wow!”
Never mind days, I could spend months here in Petra. It is absolutely a photographer’s paradise. With all the Bedouin people selling trinkets and frankincense and the many different ways that light falls on the wonder, I would not mind becoming a cave dweller here.
A magical wonder of the world, albeit man made, Petra certainly takes up many gigabytes of memory in the mind.