Disclaimer: These a long winded blog posts. Your choice how much you read but these are purely my take on my adventures in the Middle East
Land and sea. Onwards on our journey and the true adventures began. Heading from Sharm, we travelled the rest of the Sinai to Nuweiba, passing close to but not near enough Mount Mosa, or St Khaterina where Musa (A.S.) received the Ten Commandments.
In Nuweiba we hopped on a ‘ferry’, which was more like a huge speedboat that was to carry us across the Red Sea towards Aqabah. The first of many customs crossings began. First in Nuweiba and then in Aqabah. On the speedboat trip we saw the lights of Eilat in Palestine and then the coast of Saudi Arabia. Pretty cool if you think about it. On one side Egypt, on the other Palestine, and another Saudi, while in front was Jordan. That’s four countries bordering the Red Sea.
Aqabah was a quiet night. Well almost quiet. After supper Uncle Abie treated us to the first of two lectures. The lectures were held to help us understand the history of Palestine and the so-called State of Israel. Uncle Abie’s lectures are indeed something everyone should listen to, minus the wayward jokes in-between. Not only is it informative but also captivating to know that the stories we have been fed over the years are in fact lies. Something we all ‘kind of’ know but never fully understand. I would go into his lectures here but this is not the place to start writing about it. [May do it in a total separate post from this series especially with the recent Palestinian Papers released].
Early morning start led us on the road to Petra. One of the ancient wonders of the world, no one can fully understand how people, mere people with out the tools and equipment we have today, can build such structures that have withstood time. The feeling of seeing the pyramids for the first time was about to be relived through the amazing structures at Petra.
The bus ambled along towards Petra, moving through arid land, we climbed some of the highest points in Jordan, and our guide, an amazing awesome person named Na’eem, pointed into the distance saying: “Petra is there”. “Where?” “There between the hills.”
You can imagine how I looked at him like he was crazy. How can huge structures, I had seen in movies like Indiana Jones and even Transformers, be there amongst the hills with nothing showing or even hinting it lay in that area. Na’eem did explain that the people who built Petra originally moved to the area of Jordan to hijack and steal from caravans moving along the route, and that is why their buildings were hidden from site. But seriously, I did still not totally believe him.
The bus moved through the town of Petra, which is just the town that is on the doorstep of where Petra lies. I am sure he told me a specific name, but I can’t remember it. It was a little nerve wrecking to see a big bus move between tiny streets and down into a valley near the entrance of the ancient city.
Entering the main gate, is the usual security check and then you are set upon by the guys who have horses you can ride down into Petra with or take a horse and carriage. They do mention that your entrance fee covers the ride down but not the ride back, but be warned… they will not leave you alone till you pay them something. Walking was a better idea for most of us but there were a few including the brother who decided he must ride a horse down to at least the entrance into the canyon.[Btw walking down into Petra is easy, it’s the walk back that you should be weary of.]
Following the road, between shear rock faces that rose from either side, the valley/canyon was incredible. You notice aqueducts built into the rock face, chiselled out to perfection, that could have still been in use today if need be. The tools and the way these people lived left me gobsmacked.
The walk down takes a while before you even see the main attraction, the Treasury of Petra but along the way, the moment wraps around me and somehow for a short while I am sent back into history. I can picture people on horse back riding down into the city and the image is enforced by the clip clop of horses and the rickety sounds of the many carriages taking tourists down to the city and back again. The horse’s smells are even helping with the imagery and they stink!
There comes a moment when Na’eem makes us all stop, to point out various ducts and tombs in the wall, then tells us to walk on the left and of the canyon and to look ahead for our first true glimpse of Petra.
Through the rock wall peeps the Treasury of Petra, and the first sight take your breath away. The ancient city is nothing like you’ve seen before and the movies don’t even come close. To stand in front of the Treasury and take a picture and when you look at it again you can’t even make out who you are, hits home the enormous size of the buildings. The pyramids are one thing but this is unreal as people built it to live in.
The theatre is as magnificent and we all did a bit of Shakespeare role-playing. Julius Caeser to be more specific. Your voice resonates off the rock walls and seating area and you can imagine how it must have been thousands of years ago. It can seat some 7000 people and would make any stage in the world look like mini-town in comparison.
Onwards to Amman and the Cave of the Sleepers. The Cave is one in which the Qur’an speaks about the sleepers who were persecuted and Allah safe guarded them by putting them to sleep for over 300 years. It is called the Cave of the Seven Sleepers but that number is actually unknown. It can be 3 or 5 or 7 as the Qur’an mentions. The cave is also around the Roman burial areas and structures. A mosque is situated in the area as well. If we had visited in the day we would have seen the olive trees and apparently lavender fields. Not so sure on that as we arrived in the evening and it was pretty cold.
Amman was our final stop for the evening and also made up the final part of Uncle Abies lecture. The following day was the start of the main part of the trip I was awaiting – Jerusalem!
Travels 3 to follow… Jerusalem
*all the pics here