April 22, 2011 Friday
Day 10  Petra
Submitted  by Micky and Marilyn

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Located on the Spice Road coming from Yemen,
Petra was established in this very well protected gorge
in the 6th Century BC by the Nebatians.
Their major God was Dashara helping them safe travels and good weather avoiding the most threatened  drought
David Robertson painted Petra in 1839
Not much had changed since it was first illustrated.
Mary Kay and Michael took a carriage, the rest of us walked the 4 km long breathtaking gorge

When the sun kissed the rocks, it felt like we were on Mars.

Though the dominating color was pink and red and orange, the blues, yellows, greens made the rocks look like the canvas of a painter

(Marilyn) Our morning began with a mile long walk into Petra. Mary Kay and Michael opted for a horse-drawn carriage that quickly overtook us and vanished down the path. Though we had just been down the same path the night before, it looked very different in the daylight. Our guide, Mahdi pointed out interesting features along the way such as the tombs carved into the rocks. Some still had markings that showed how many people were buried within. After a ways, the path narrows and you enter the Siq, the narrow passage between high red rock walls leading into the city. This being the desert, flash floods are a real danger. The land descends into Petra and the Siq is the perfect conduit for a flash flood. The Nabataeans were prepared for this and built a dam and dug a tunnel to divert the water that would have naturally flowed into the Siq. The water returned to its natural path and passed through the end of the city to help supply water. The Siq is also lined with two levels of water channels on the walls, one for the upper city and one for the lower city. The rock walls of the Siq are dramatic with intense undulating red colors. Beautiful carvings of a camel caravan remain silhouetted on the wall, one pair of camels entering the city juxtaposed against another pair leaving the city.

The Treasury

The 4 kilometers of constant admiration

The unique looks of the camel man

We emerge from the Siq to the breathtaking carved façade of the Treasury. The Nabataeans did their carvings from the top down to prevent a cave in from above destroying the work below. The design incorporates mixture of classical architectural styles. The seven days of the week are represented by goblets. Yes, thank you I will have a glass of wine! Moving on, we passed more tombs intricately carved into the cliffs at several levels, the lowest the most important families to the highest which were the unauthorized tombs of the commoner. The roadway is partially the uncovered old Roman style stone road lined with Roman columns in the inner city. Several temples have been uncovered, including one with elephants on the capitals. Another temple has an amphitheater. Much of Petra remains buried under the sand with much more to discover.

Micky, Mark, Jim and I climbed up to the High Place where there is a sacrificial altar and great sweeping views of the entire valley and beyond.

(Micky) We started up the many well-maintained steps (Mark counted 700) past donkeys, jewelry stands and even a tea shop near the top. The colors of the rock changed often as we climbed. After we passed the tea shop and the obelisks near the top, the way became a bit of a scramble. There were helpful black arrows painted on the trail and we followed them to the sacrificial altar, complete with a drain cut in the stone for the blood to drain out. On we went on an exciting trail to the front of the precipice (and yes there was a jewelry stand there) to the view over the entire valley. We were so high up that we could no longer make out any of the many people below, and only barely could we see any of the human made features other than the large tombs and temples. We could grasp the immense spread of the rocks of Petra- they seemed to go on forever.


We found an easier way around back to the tea shop and expected to find Jim there sipping tea. He wasn’t there so we assumed he had started down the trail without us. Later, we found out that he had taken a nap on the warm flat rocks at the top, expecting us to retrace our steps back from the precipice.

The Nebatain Christians from the church mosaics

When we reached the bottom, we bargained for a camel ride for Marilyn and she was off on a trot. We found her at the Treasury and walked back through the Siq. All of this hard work made us very thirsty so we stopped off for a couple of beers at the Cave Bar (circa 1st century AD). They have been spinning 70’s era country western since the 1st century!

Micky, mark and Marilyn left the group to do the climb to the top of Petra. No body else dared to join them.

When we saw their pictures we were happy that they made it but many of us thought that we were right not to take that long walk. no one else in the group could have make it!

What a view!!

Back to the hotel in time for a bit of wine before we set off for dinner. We had a good dinner at Al Qantarah, notable for magloobeh, a chicken and rice dish prepared in a ceramic crock and served by flipping the crock upside down on to a plate.
We then headed to a shop in the hopes that Carole could find a high quality scarf like the one that Mahdi was wearing. Most of us headed for the Cave bar but it being too cold outside and too noisy inside (more bad country western music),we briefly diverted to the hotel bar. This brief and unsuccessful diversion caused confusion and we lost Meli and Carole. We then attempted to enter our hotel bar but it was just too smoky. Some ventured in briefly for a beer to take back to their room, but others went to bed or to the computer.

Every evening of our tour  had a happy hour where drinks were consumed in a country where the restaurants were not always licensed to serve wine

The dinners were fun. there was not much variety in the food served but there was always more food than we could consume

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