Thursday, October 9, 2008

Part II: The Little Petra that Could

You'll first have to excuse me, I'd like to save big Petra (the normal one) for a later post. To be sure, the next post will be on the Dead Sea, and following that, the main event- PETRA. In order to be forthright, I must admit, the Holy Grail, as portrayed in Indian Jones and the Last Crusade, is not housed in Petra. So, if you were waiting for that whole part, I'm sorry.

Anyways, back to Aqaba. We left the chicken coup early in the morning (officially my birthday now), and headed to the main bus stop in Aqaba, assuming we would take a large bus to Wadi Musa, the town overlooking Petra. Instead, we met a very nice driver who offered to take just our group for only a couple more dinars. We thought this would be a better idea, and we were definitely rewarded. The drive to Wadi Musa was stunning. So much of Jordan seemed to be untarnished by human hands, and left to its own natural setting. This couldn't have been more different than the huge metropolis I'm living in, and I appreciated such a drastic change of scenery. Within a couple of hours, I was able to see a desert, mountains, and beaches. Jordan truly is a unique country worth visiting. Our driver stopped at a couple of points to let us take in the view (and snap some pictures as well). I got a picture with him at one of our stops with the Jordanian landscape in the background.

Me with our driver

We arrived in Wadi Musa early midday. We considered this day a travel day, but upon reaching our hostel, we were told we should try to see Little Petra. Never having heard of it, but told it's free to visit, we thought we'd give it a shot. Again, we couldn't have made a better decision. The ride over to Little Petra was quite the experience as well. It may have only been about 10 minutes, but it might as well have been an hour long roller coaster ride. All seven of us fit into the back of a truck. Surrounded by a whirlwind of sandstone mountains, we were going up and down and careening around corners with hundred feet drop-offs. Danger aside, the ride was spectacular.

This is the beginning of the path leading to Little Petra.

Not really knowing what to expect, we were happy to have our first taste of Petra. As you can see, the facades are carved in the side of sandstone. Much of the design reflects western influences, which is not too surprisingly, knowing Petra was a center of trade between the east and west. Much of the Petra carvings (both Little and Big) were done by the Nabataeans, between 200 BC to 200 AD. While you might expect to find a room beyond this facade, you will only find a small enclosure the width and height of the doorway. Continuing on our short hike, we encountered a couple more carvings.
In front of the first carving at Little Petra

I thought the columns at this site were pretty interesting. I wanted to climb up to look inside the room, but decided it probably wasn't the best idea to risk my life on my 21st birthday.

We continued walking for a while until we reached a small passageway in between to large sandstone pieces (or mountains, I don't know which is the most appropriate term). We were told by some young Jordanian girls that "many foreigners have fallen." Not surprisingly, we trudged on, and scaled the steps until reaching the top, where we were greeted by a young Jordanian man, trying to get us to rest after our feat and drink some tea with him. Politely declining, we walked a little more and reached a nice flat area from which we could see more of Little Petra.

Five of us on the side of a rock

We ended up walking back and got back into the back of the truck for another crazy ride. What could have been a wasted day turned out being a great introduction to one of the most famed areas in the world.

Ma'a salaama,


1 comment:

Victoria said...

keep of the great work! love all your pictures. you really are receiving an experience of a lifetime!