Israeli Days/Jordanian Nights: Day 10
For probably the past year, I have been following an account on Instagram called "Visit Jordan" and the place I see featured the most is the one in the image above: the ancient city of Petra. It's made appearances in films like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), The Mummy Returns (2001), and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) — and it is truly something to see in person.
Petra is presumed to have been the capital city of an Arab group known as the Nabataeans (though they referred to it as Raqmu), an ancient people inhabiting the Arabian Peninsula in the 1st Century A.D. The Nabataeans carved extravagant architectural structures, like Al Khazneh (The Treasury) in the photo above, and a number of elaborate tombs, into the rock faces found in Petra.
Early in the morning on Friday the 13th, we made our way through the Siq (the "shaft"), a shady gorge that serves as the entrance to Petra. Looking about as we did so, I couldn't help but think we seemed to have been whisked away into a scene from Disney's The Lion King.
Fortunately, there were no stampeding wildebeests within sight; rather, the gorge opened up to reveal the face of Al Khazneh and some rather large camels resting in the sand. For a small fee of only 20 shekels I was allowed to hop up onto the back of one of those camels and ride around for a hot second (all of the seconds were hot while we were in Petra, by the way). Donkeys and horses milled about as well, often being watched over or ridden by small children.
The various sites of Petra are painted with peddlers selling jewelry, scarves, compasses, pocket watches, metal objects, and knickknacks of all kinds. They are members of the Bedouin tribe, who travel from a nearby settlement everyday to interact with tourists and attempt to make a living by selling the aforementioned items and offering camel and donkey rides.
Before our time at Petra came to a close, a good chunk of our group opted to climb up one of the mountains to take in the view (don't ask me which one). We zipped up that sucker in about 20 minutes and did not hesitate to get the group photo session going, as well as a chorus of individual shots.
Tonight we are in Aqaba, an important port city of the Kingdom of Jordan with access to the Gulf of Aqaba. The hotel here — the Captain's Tourist Hotel — is the snazziest yet, and I am unashamed to report some of us stopped in at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for dinner.
I don't recall what's on the agenda for tomorrow, but it's going to be hot, hot, hot; it was hovering right around 100 degrees Fahrenheit this evening.
Sleepy time, friends.