April 9, 2008

Wadi Mousa - Petra

Making my way from the Wadi Rum desert to Wadi Mousa was a simple car ride on the King’s Highway, which scenically connects northern and southern Jordan through it’s many mountain ranges and flat desert plains. As I tried to relax in the backseat with my ipod, my excited driver Mohammed wanted to share his love of Arabic military songs (yes, he had been a Jordanian soldier for over twenty years back in the day) and prove to me an “optical illusion” by the roadside he knew so well. As the music blared, he stopped the car on what appeared to be an obvious downhill stretch and put the car in neutral – of which it did not budge. Then he put a round water bottle to the ground and it did not roll. Then I put a round water bottle to the ground and it did not roll. Then he got back in the driver’s seat with complete satisfaction and proceeded to ask me if I knew what an optical illusion was.
Arriving in Wadi Mousa at sunset I ended up at a restaurant where I serendipitously bumped into two of my fellow mates from the ferry journey, Paul from England and Eduardo from Brazil, and we added on a new and perfectly matched traveler from New York, Thomas, who ended up being my long lost brother (no pun intended Thomas!). We decided to see the ruins of Petra the next day together, heeding the advice from Paul and Eduardo who had already completed it that day to get there first thing in the morning. And so at 6:30 a.m the next morning Laurel and Hardy set out without a packed lunch, a forgotten camera, and a camera that would soon break, being the first two at the ruins walking the trail of the Siq –which is a natural path through the tetonic rift of two huge mountains – in complete solitude – except for our rowdy New York, disturbing the ancient peace attitudes. Once through this long alley of striped rock, you hit the famous Treasury building of Petra. Being one of five people there – even the vendors were still sleeping- we had a unique opportunity to catch it’s splendor minus the hoards of tourists that would show up later in the day.
Traveling around the ruins of Petra can take one, two or three days depending on how much you want to see. It is a huge valley that has domestic dwellings, temples and sacrificial areas all carved into the mountains. Unlucky for me, Thomas and I met up with another member of the ferry crew, Jeff from Korea, and now I was among two boys who thought they were in some sick and twisted Jane Fonda workout video and decided, to my objection but on my behalf, that it would be best to pack in a full three days of Petra sightseeing in one. Lucky for them they knew my weakness already and kept coaxing me straight up huge mountain on ancient stairs in the blazing sun with the promise of beer after we were finished. But I am happy I had two drill sergeants because the sights were amazing and my butt got mysteriously smaller – of which in our hunger induced delirium halfway to the heavens we discovered and renamed this famous city Buttra (inside joke, you kind of had to be there).
I was persuaded to stay an extra day in Wadi Mousa while my camera was being fixed – which never happened – but it was still better to try and wait out my time there, visiting the Dead Sea, then in Amman, where seeing all the sights takes about twenty minutes. It also gave me a nicely timed opportunity to see Petra by Night – a new program in which, on certain nights of the week, they illuminate the Siq to the Treasury building with votive candles. You start as big group and getting the full effect is difficult, but you are allowed to leave the tour whenever you like, so as everyone sat and listened to the live music being offered, I was one of the first to walk back alone – just me, a huge mountainous pathway lit by candles, the stars and a more authentic feeling of what walking that path must have felt like a few thousand years ago.


Teddymorsicchio said...

I think Petra is fantastic,it's so mysterious with this magnificient temple made from rocks..Bye bye from Italy,Patty

jess said...

so glad you had a good day honoring your mom.. she would would be very proud of you.. all of your research.. your openess.. your ability to challenge your fears.. brava..
(by the way. did your a-hole burn off in the dead sea or what?)
keep safe.

Hyoung Joo said...

Hey, yo buttra !!
This is me, Jeff
im in Jerusalem right now, and im surfing the internet with WI-FI.
Whatevs :p
it was really great exploring Buttra with you ! ! :)
cya in Syria (Hopefully)
Keep it real


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