Trip Start Oct 12, 2005
48Trip End Mar 31, 2006
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Our first night in Amman, we walked from our hotel over a few of the cities higher hills to the third circle in search of some dinner
It's impossible to capture the scale and impact of Petra
We traveled to Petra with our friends from Washington DC, Michael and Rebecca. If you don't remember them, take a look at our earlier planning entries. They were the awesome couple we met who were also planning a six month trip, and as we discussed the similarities in our lives all we can think of is the traveler creed "Same same, but different". Seriously, they must be our doppelgangers. Although we've traveled over the some of the same ground, the world's a big place and our timelines never crossed until now when we are both in the Middle East in final weeks of our trips.
Our taxi driver to Petra, Nidal, must have had a headache before we even left the city limits with all the chatter and laughter that comes with catching up and swapping war travel stories! We had all been looking forward to traveling together for several months. With infinite patience, Nidal pointed out sites along the way and stopped us off at a very unique and rustic hotel called the Tower Hotel in the Dana Nature Preserve. Although the hastily constructed, primitive themed rooms were a little bizaree, the spectacular desert view more than made up for it. Our lunch of hummus, pita, lamb meatballs, salad and french fries kept us going all afternoon as we toured Shofar -- an ancient crusader castle, complete with secret passages and ancient cannon balls, courtesy of Saladin who conquered it and kicked out the Europeans
We continued on and had no sooner arrived in Wadi Musa (the town closest to the ancient city of Petra), than we set out again on a tour of Petra by night. This is a special program run by the Jordanian Tourist Authority three times a week involving a dramatic 2km candlelit walk through desert canyons to the Treasury (a building used in the filming of Indiana Jones). Like most other structures in Petra, the Treasury was carved completely out of a sandstone cliff-face. Thanks to it's sheltered position from the elements it is fairly intact. The city, which dates back to 60 BC, thrived as a center for trading caravans traveling through the middle east until its gradual decline in the 14th century. It lay undiscovered by the West for almost 500 years but was consistently inhabited by local Bedouin tribes. In 1812, a Swiss man disguised as a Muslim pilgrim discovered the city and it has gained more and more attention as the years have passed. We explored the tombs and caves of Petra for two days before heading further into the desert for a little camping trip to Wadi Rum -- the setting for Lawrence of Arabia.
Everyone knows Kristy's not much of a camper but with the promise of beds inside the tents and spectacular scenery, our merry four-some left Petra for the wilds of Wadi Rum
Our camp for the night, created in the style of the Bedouins, was surprisingly comfortable. We enjoyed a few beers by the fire and ate a hearty dinner. Mohammed took us out further in the desert for some star gazing before we all collapsed wearily in our tents outfitted with a double mattress. Bright and early the next morning, we hopped on a few camels and trekked around the outside our camp. It turns out Kristy is a natural with the camels. The photos speak for themselves. Most amusing about the camel ride was the Bedouin guides who spent the whole time screaming into their cellphones. You think that would be annoying but it actually added to the atmosphere. Before leaving Wadi Rum for Aqaba and the Israeli border, we took a ride out to the remaining set pieces of Lawrence of Arabia which was filmed in 1962 but still standing. Our four-some turned into six with the additional of a lovely couple from Melbourne, Australia.
After a quick visit and a cup of arab coffee with Mohammed's family in Aqaba, he kindly drove us to the Israel / Jordan border where we spent the better of the next two hours running the security gauntlet. It's true what they say about Israeli security -- it's the best in the world. On the positive side, we felt sure no shady people were getting through that border. On the not so positive side, the thorough bag searches caused us to miss the last bus to Jerusalem. How's that for a cliff hanger? Tune in next time and we'll tell you what we did about it!