Colourful Petra

One of the few things you’re not about to expect in the Jordan desert between Dead Sea and Wadi Rum is definitely snow. Climate change is unstoppable, but fortunately the sun melted the white stuff and Jordan’s jewel, the unique mountain city of Petra could unfold it’s colourful visage.

My astonished face was only beaten by the Bedouin’s amazement as they saw this weather wonder last time ~40 years ago. It’s been cold, really cold and quite cloudy to boot. The city of Petra saw the effects of cold front which brought winter back to Central Europe while also taking influence Mediterranean regions. For Jordan that meant cold air, sandstorms at Wadi Rum as well as rainfall.

Weather had been quite mixed, but at noon clouds disappeared more and more which let my photographer heart beat louder. Despite being tired as hell I decided to go down to the Petra site. However you have to pay about 25 Euro. It’s even worth to stay 1.5 or 2 days and to buy a 2-day ticket, which is just 6 Euro more. There’s really much to see and the distances between the sites of Petra aren’t small, also the vertical distances. But the most impressive way is surely when you’re walking in the foot steps of Indiana Jones, through the Siq where finally Khazne al-Firaun (treasury) is waiting for you.

The round shapes of 1.5km long Siq are deeply impressive. At then end this washed-out stone tube is almost 150 meters high, but only a few meters wide. But there’s no better curtain to introduce the treasury step by step to your eyes. From that point on you can live out your hiking and climbing phantasies. There’s much to see, much to discover and actually everything is worth to be seen with your own eyes. There’s f.e. the high place of sacrifice, which is located really high above Petra and still has the trenches to make blood flow off. Not far away from that place are the remainings of Petra overlooking Egyptian obelisks. From there having a look down to the valley is just breath taking. Not far away is a collection of surreal rocks formed like faces which seem to watch over the Petra site, while blue sky is being invaded by clouds.

When following the route from the obelisks over to Jabal al Dair, one of the north-western hills, you’ll reach the monastery, Petra’s biggest monument. The climb up is no walk in the park as about 500 meters altitude difference and about 800 stair steps have to be taken. The view of that cut in stone monument is just majestic. Maybe, if the police officer succumbs to Hamad’s persuasion you may climb up to the roof to see the 9 meters high stone vase face to face.

The Bedouins are often living in small caves or in rock niches. Sometimes there they even stay overnight. From there they start to offer their camel or donkey to the tourists, but also sometimes trying to huckster “very old coins”. Along the most walked paths tourists can find a lot of souvenir shops; there are even shop shacks behind Ed-Deir offering credit card payment :-)

The Roman influence on Nabatean architecture is highly visible. Though you surely don’t want to belong to that ethnic group as firstly you have to cut those monuments out of the stone, then you have to cover all distances on foot, horizontally as well as vertically. The colourful sandstone along their paths is something you’ve never seen before. From salmon-like streaked dark red to layers of violet and yellow.

Amidst that world of colours I met a group of German girls travelling. Together we made it back from Ed-Deir to the valley. We somehow lost their male companion en-route. Being undiscoverably ahead, we decided to look for a different way to leave the Petra valley. The way led us on top of a rock close to treasury, where we met Bedouin Audi and his donkey. Equipped with a mobile water pipe we enjoyed the sunset while looking down to the treasury.

Audi invited us to see his home and to have a tea. First the girls hesitated because of their missing companion, but it didn’t take long and I was totally into it as meeting hospitality and everyday life is the basic background of my travel. After a 1 hours lasting walk down from the bottom of Petra valley to the Bedouin village we arrived at Audi’s home. When going inside I spotted a familiar face: Audi’s mother, who I helped to cut a tree earlier that day. She promptly supplied us with tasty black tea with mint leafs and a freshly baked bread. In the evening hours Audi and his friend insisted on taking us back to the Petra village, to our hotel. Quickly they arranged a transportation possibility to bring us to 10km far away central Petra.

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