Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Final Day in Jordan AKA "The Last Crusade"

For our last day in Jordan we no longer followed in the footsteps of the bible but of Indiana Jones! We visited the “Red Rose City” of Petra. In case you need a refresher on your Last Crusade scenes, I've included the scene where the Treasury at Petra appears.

I have to say, it is totally extraordinary. You couldn’t have built this place any better if it were a movie set. The only way to gain access to Petra is through a 1.2km chasm in the Earth which at most points it only 6 – 10 ft. wide, called The Siq, and then it gives way to this incredible sight which is the Treasury. It truly looks like an untouched, ‘lost’ city. The Nabateans who built Petra literally just carved their buildings out of the rock and that marbled sandstone has the most amazing colors in it. The city is over 2,000 years old, and some of these buildings are incredibly well preserved.

The Siq

It's pretty awesome when the Treasury first reveals itself

Ta Da! The Treasury

It can take almost 2-3 days to see all of Petra on foot, and we only had 1 day so we needed to make the most of it. As such, we as a group decided to bargain with the locals to secure a donkey to take us up the over 800 steps to the top of the city where the largest monument in Petra stands – the Monastery. The hike usually takes an hour, and the donkeys tend to expedite this so we decided to give it a try.

Thirsty camel

With our guide Issa, in front of the Urn Tomb. He had quite the sense of humor he told us that Matt's donkey was named Michael Jackson and mine Monica Lewinsky.We are going up that? Matt's look says it all.Finally, the Monastery!Almost totally preserved after 2,000 years.If you build it, he will climb.

It was terrifying, most of the 800 steps are worn down, broken, only about 3 feet wide and nearly all of them are bordered on at least one side by nothing but a cliff. It seems that the donkeys actually prefer the cliff side for some reason as well and so you basically stare at your death for the next 25 minutes. If you watch the video below you will see that I make noises that just no human being should make…

Those smiles are looks of relief. We were finally back at the bottom.

It should be noted also that this donkey thing isn’t a perfect science; they aren’t exactly “trained”. In one horrifying incident, our friend Maura’s saddle broke as the donkey was climbing downhill and not only did she flip head first over the donkey but it slid down the stairs and part of him landed on her. Umm yeah, she was ok, but let’s just say she walked the rest of the way down after that.

Donkeys aside it is clear to see why Petra is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It’s absolutely phenomenal.

This shot wasn't staged (nice job Lisa). Our driver Hassan is showing us the area.

The serious hiking and donkey riding left us all a bit exhausted, but when we met up with one of the locals who offered to take us on a sunset hike we couldn’t resist. Turns out it was more of a sunset climb, belay not included. We quite literally scaled this rock face for the next hour while he explained the local geography. When we finally reached the summit he said to us “now you have to say, ‘I’m the King of the World’!”. We all yelled it to please him, but I have to say that just for a few minutes it certainly felt like it.

Our sunset climb.

Totally worth the scrapes and bruises!

1 comment:

udjim said...

Thank you, thank you - especially for not posting this until you were safely down again.

'Loved the sound track to the donkey ride!