We take the early bus at 6:30 am to Petra (JETT BUS). It’s about a 2 hour drive down with one stop for coffee and snacks and they play a 30 min travel video of King Abdullah showing you around the sites of Jordan. He seems like the nicest guy.
Petra, made famous by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, is one of those famous monuments that gets a lot of hype, like Stonehenge or the Mona Lisa (which I’m sorry to say are somewhat disappointing). So I feared Petra would be the same, a crowded overrated site. I’m happy to report it was not. The tickets are pricey (50 JD a day ($80 CAD)) but since it’s 55 JD for 2 days we decided it would be a better deal to take 2 days to visit Petra. It’s about a 2 km walk in through a slot canyon which itself is beautiful. (Mark, the rock climber that he is, got lost imagining the potential for routes). Slowly the rocks open up and reveal the Treasury. As you walk about discovering one carved temple after another there is a stream of Bedouin offering camel rides, donkey rides, or merchandise. Though the offering is endless, a simple “no thank you” was often enough for them to leave you be. Nicole did get suckered into buying a bracelet ($1 CAD) from a woman who talked of her starving children... I think the bracelet has grown on her now.
Bedouins are a tribal people native to the deserts of Jordan. They lived out in camps and are renowned for their hospitality of giving without expecting anything in return. The Bedouins of Petra used to live in caves - now most of them live in the village. The world has changed and now most Bedouins you meet in Jordan will be trying to sell you something. We did meet a true Bedouin, Gassab our host.
First day in Petra, we wandered up to the high alter of sacrifice where we were able to get a 360⁰ view. (It’s worth the sweat up the stairs in the desert sun). We wandered around after that for hours, barely seeing anyone and finding a very friendly and hungry cat. Exhausted, our tired legs took us back to town stopping to chat with a young local guy, Abraham, who works with the horses there while attending university.
That night we stayed in a cave! A friend recommended we stay with Gasahab, a local Bedouin and pioneer of couch surfing in Petra. We hopped in his jeep, bought some food for dinner and drove off the road into the desert. It’s a strange thing to get in a car with someone you just met and drive in the middle of nowhere to his cave and somehow not worry about the possibility that he is a psycho killer and just enjoy the bumpy ride. It was surreal off-roading through the rocky terrain among the cave homes and herds of sheep. After watching the glorious sunset perched on top of a cliff, we prepared dinner (chicken, veg and potatoes cooked over the fire outside the cave). Mark was tasked with the man jobs (getting firewood and building the fire). The feminist in me would normally have something to say about this but my tired self was all too happy to be excluded from those tasks. Nicole got a little freaked out by the spider on the ceiling over her head. Gassahab tried to assure us there were no spiders in Jordan, which was unsuccessful as he reluctantly admitted that it was, in fact, a spider, which he thenn graciously removed. (In my defence, it was a rather large spider, literally perched over my head as I tried to fall asleep). The cave was warm and cozy and I slumbered through the naturally quiet night.
Note of the day: Gassahab was amazing. If you ever get the chance to stay in his cave - do it! He and his brother run a travel guide company called Bedouin Brothers. If you ever need an outdoors guide for Petra or climbing in Wadi Rum, he’s your man.