July 19, 2012
A huge decision was on my plate today... to go or not to go. Whether tis nobler in the mind to spend $250 or to miss out on one of the 7 wonders of the world... what to do?
I did what any normal person would do... put off my decision. I started the morning at a nice breakfast buffet and followed that up with an hour at the pool, which rated an A+ for sunshine, but a C- for crap in the pool (leaves, bugs, etc).
So now it was 10am and I had to make a decision... was it worth it to take the 3 hour drive to Petra to see one the 7 Wonders of the World... the trip cost $140 for a private driver to and from (3 hours each direction) + $70 entry fee to the site, +$20 for a horse ride to save my feet from walking, + $7 for an awesome JORDAN hat (not Air Jordan, but the Kingdom of Jordan), + about $10 for waters and snacks. So my options were to either do nothing at the hotel and spend no money, or spend $250 and make some memories.
Memories were made!
My driver who I didn't even speak more than 10 words to in our 6 hours together picked me up at 10:45am. He seemed like a quality guy, he just didn't speak too much English and my Arabic skills were severely lacking as well. The trip is about 250km and took us about 3 hours to arrive. The drive was unremarkable unless you like desert, camels, goats, unfinished houses (tons of them) and roads without markings.
Driving in Jordan is quite unique. On the roads that have two lanes in each direction there are no center lines painted to keep drivers in their lanes... thus cars just do as they please, the slower people pull over to the shoulder while other cars pass... there are speed bumps every 5 miles or so to keep the highway from turning into a speedway I guess, very annoying for a rookie like me.
Once we transitioned onto the smaller two lane road (one in each direction), the line painting machine must not have been working of late. There is no center line and thus people just pass as they please. Shockingly it works and I only feared for my life about 6 times during the 6 hour journey.
We arrived in Petra about 3500 years after the first settlers did (back in 1500BC)... and a few years after Indian Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed there. Upon arrival you have the opportunity to hop on a horse for the 1 mile ride down to the "siq", narrow passageway (see pictures). This was my first horse ride since I was about 12 years old and I felt bad for my poor horse trying to lug my big old body in 105 degree weather.... at least it was downhill.
We made it to the drop off point and I was on my own, equipped with 3 bottles of water, a hat, my shades and I turned my NIKE RUN app on... it was 105 degrees at this exact moment and once my two hours were done I had walked 4.86 miles in the dust. The nike frees were not happy but I seemed to fare a lot better than most of the tourists.
I have never been to a tourist attraction that had a bigger collection of people looking like absolute crap as they walked the final 200 meters to the exit gate. Sunburned, sweat everywhere, dusty shoes and socks and just an overall look of defeat was on the face of many. You'd be amazed at some of the outfits that these people wore, sundresses, jeans, flip flops... when going to battle, you must be prepared my friends.
Another interesting thing about Petra are the local Bedouins who call this place home. Featuring a very distinct look, usually darkly complected with sometimes light eyes, they are the keepers of the land. Within the site there are 50 plus kids who are selling various trinkets, taking care of the animals, etc. The older ones run the souvenir stands, drive the horse carriages or help run the donkeys. It's an interesting and very friendly group of people... some pictures can be found here: http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0607/petra.html
The walk was worth every step as the views were unbelievable and the pictures below prove it. The ride home was a bit quicker and we arrived back at the Marriott a tad before 7pm. A successful, albeit a bit expensive day.