A Travellerspoint blog





Up early as promised, even though Diana and I chatted a bit we still managed to get a good sleep.  I am one of the first to the restaurant.... and coffee first and then food second.  It is a quite a good spread on the breakfast buffet and the food fuel will be needed today.  I will admit I am a little excited as Petra is one of bucket list items and I am really looking forward to this!

We all meet in the hotel lobby at 8am and it is short walk to the entrance and all down hill!

From the hotel you can see the entrance so when we arrive it is quite exciting.  Husam gets our passes and shows us on the map where we are going.

Come On... Let's Go!

Here we go! 

We make our way thru the entrance and the gravel road takes us past the horse stables in the valley below, but cut into the rock is our first taste of what is to come.  A tomb cut into the rock, which at first look like decorated blocks but as you closer entrances appear.

The first tomb
Ah... so there is more!
Up close!
Is it my imagination or does that look like a skull?!

The first tomb we see that is still in it's original form is cut directly into the rock, Arabic style with 4 pyramids carved a long the top representing the those who reside within.

This is just the entrance!
Burial Chamber!

The track takes us up a hill the entrance of natural rock alleyway, which can only really be described as an open cave, the rock walls look like they are curving in on themselves.  They glow ivory and orange in the morning sun, this is the Siq the narrow gorge is a natural formation but the arch that once stood at the entrance is no longer there, now that would have been a sight to see!

But are welcomed by 2 men in traditional costumes as we make our way thru the entrance. 

The welcome guard!
Siq Gorge!

The towering walls of the gorge guide us thru, the Nabataeans built water channels complete with filters, they built a dam in a that has long since dried up and disappeared, it is quite amazing how clever they were in the 4th century, yeap the 4th century!   You can see the remnants of these water ways as we walk thru.

It becomes quite narrow!

The further in we go the narrower the natural alleyway becomes, and it is nice to be out of the glaring sun the sandstone walls seem to act as a natural coolant.

When you look up, it's almost as though the walls are curving in on themselves at the top.  A sliver of blue sky appears at the walls opening, ah nature!

A sliver of blue sky!

And suddenly the gorge opens up and the way in widens.

We come across a small temple, and it is small, it makes me wonder how tall the Nabataeans were.  This little place of worship stands alone in the shade of the might rock walls. 

To the side steps have been cut into the rock wall and on an embankment openings appear in the rocks.  People used to bring offerings and sit on the steps listening to sermons.

The little temple!

The Siq is quite long. I don't know what I was expecting, but I had no idea of the vastness of Petra, it's not just the famous library there is so much more.  The rock seems to change from smooth sandstone to jaggered and rough in appearance.

Natures Alleyway!

Further along Husam stops and asks if we can see anything in the rock wall, at the end of the water channel is the lower half of a robed man and the front legs of a Camel.

When you step back and take a good look you can make out the rest, a man leading his camel!

A Man and his Camel!

The walk thru the Siq continues, then suddenly Husam stops and calls for to gather around, he has a bit of cheeky smile on his face, he tells us that we are half way and that he is going to catch up with us so we can go on with out him.

Then as we turn the corner, there thru the narrow split in the gorge the Treasury comes into view... WOW... It is awesome!

First Glimpse of that Iconic World Wonder!

It seems to glow in the mid morning sun.  

Then the gorge opens up to an open area, and there it is in full view, one of the 7 wonders of the world, I really wish Mum was here with me, she would love this!  It is simply fantastic!

The Treasury

It is as tall as I expected, but I thought it would be wider.

There is a crowd, understandably, it is an icon!  I just want to take in every detail, so I find a bench and stare...  WOW!

I made it!

Unlike the other buildings the Treasury hasn't been worn down by the weather, as they built it further back into the rock, protecting it from the elements.

Six pillars line the ground level, and it is hard to tell that the one on the far left has been rebuilt. the niches represent a clock, flowers indicate the days, weeks, months and seasons.

The Details are beautiful!

On each side of the lower lever are 2 riders one riding upwards the other downwards.  These are Castor & Pollux who lead the spirits of the dead to heaven or to hell, up or down!

Heaven bound!

The upper level has 6 smaller columns, in the center is a circular formation has a statue of a women, Isis Tyche - the goddess of wealth, holding a trumpet in one hand and a glass in the other.  On either side of her are 2 female warriors holding axes. 

Above Isis is an urn once thought to hold treasure.  There are bullet holes in the facade surrounding the urn where soldiers in the first world war tried to shoot it down trying to get the gold that was never there!

Isis Tyche!

It was discovered that it isn't really a treasury, it is in fact a tomb, dedicated to the Nabataean King Artis IV.  Muched loved by his people, under his reign the city was prosperous.

You could once go inside, but it is closed off now as Archeologists are discovering more burial tombs underneath as they excavate further down and further out.

I would so love to go in!

Opposite the Treasury is another little entrance, that seems half buried.  I spose this is a good indicator that there is more under our feet.

You can climb up the cliff to get a view of the Treasury from above, but my fear of heights kicks in and I just enjoy the view from the ground.

What is in there? !

Opposite the Treasury is another little entrance, that seems half buried.  I suppose this is a good indicator that there is more under our feet.

You can climb up the cliff to get a view of the Treasury from above, but my fear of heights kicks in and I just enjoy the view from the ground.

As the sun makes it way thru the sky the facade of the treasury changes color, but as the morning draws on Husam rounds us up, there is more to see and we must continue on.

The details have faded but you get a sense of how grand they were!
How did they build these?
Imposing in the details

We round a bend entering another walled gorge, and there is a small herd of donkeys catching shade in an alcove in the wall.  If I thought the treatment of the horses was bad enough trotting up and down the on the stone floor their hooves often slipping on the smooth stone being pushed with a whip and dripping with sweat in the harsh heat.

But what I see makes my blood boil.

One man is trying to make this poor little donkey move by beating him in the neck with a stick with such power you can hear the thudding over the crowds of people making their way.

I can hold my tongue no longer and I shout at him to stop.  He tells me it is none of my business how he treats his animals.  I am so angry so I shout at him to give me the stick so I can beat him with it so he knows how it feels.  

Husam is standing behind me, I think he is a little concerned as the man is telling me to mind my business and go a way.  I look around for a Petra tourist police as I shout at him that I am going to report him for animal abuse, his friend tells me I should as he is always beats his animals this way and tells me his name is Amed.  There are no tourist police in sight and as his verbal barrage at me continues I again vow to report him to the police, and he scoops up his belongings and disappears.

I am so angry I am shaking with fury, the abuse of any animal makes me so angry I really did want to pick up a stick and give him a taste of his own medicine.  Suddenly Husam is beside me "Am I going to have to rescue you from jail?"  All I can do is stare at him, but his words bring me to my senses, he smiles at me in and we slowly move on.

I have noticed signs all along the walk to report any animal abuse but when I so finally see some tourist police I wonder if they will actually do anything about it as they probably see this everyday. 

I am still trying to calm down as we make our way to the street of the facades.

They would have been magnificent in their day.  Tombs cut into the rock face beautifully decorated with columns and pyramids.

The Street of Facades!

It is a patchwork of entries and decorative carvings.  They vary in size but there is a large tomb that dominates them all, steps have been carved into the rock leading up to the entrance.  

Some of the entries seem to have an Egyptian style to their design, influenced by the nations the Nabataeans traded with, making them a once wealthy nation.

That's quite grand!

Along the street are little shops and stalls selling souvenirs and cold drinks.  Husam takes us to one selling spices, myrrh and frankincense.  The smells are sweet, strong and delightful.  With the shop keep they show us the differences, their uses, the differences in quality and their origins.  We try some myrrh perfume it is sweet, and the amber soap (ment to keep flies away, it aint working)

The sun is beating down and it is becoming uncomfortably hot, we thank our host and continue on.  The Facades on one side spread further down dottin the rock face the dark openings look like an invitingly cool relief from the heat.

Wonder what life was like back then!

Husam takes over to a women who owns a jewelry stall.  She is a a western women, when he introduces her, the name is familiar to me, Marguerite van Geldermalsen.  Ah she is a New Zealander she married a Bedouin and wrote a book about her life.  She was originally from Christchurch and together she and her husband lived in the ancient city until they were relocated to a near by village when Petra become a World Heritage Site.  Today she teaches the women in the village to make silver jewelry with designs inspired by the art and carvings found in Petra.

Saying goodbye we head down the wide open street Roman columns come into view, signalling the entrance to a Roman amphitheater that has been cut into the rock.  

With 7 stairways going up and 3 rows of block seating it was said to hold up to 4000 spectators.  It would have taken a lot of hard work to cut out all that stone!

The Roman Amphitheatre!

The winding street takes us to the Royal Tombs, they open up spreading  up the rock face.  Some of the tombs can be dated back to 70AD, there are 4 of them, the decorations on the facades have been worn away by the weather, it would have been amazing to see them in all their glory!

The Royal Tombs!
Grander than the others!
Would have been a sight in their day!

A wide avenue opens up lined with columns and pillars of various heights.  The original paving stones dot the walk way.  Grooves have formed where the Romans once rode in their chariots, the paving stones have smoothed over time, shining in the sunlight.

Archeologists are working on the Great Temple so it is closed off to tourists.  

At the end of the Avenue is a large gateway decorated with Roman style florals.  It towers over you as pass thru.

Passing thru the Roman Gates!

The afternoon heat is exhausting, and I am thankful for my frozen water, the way back is mostly uphill and in the full afternoon sun not the easiest of walks, but the views are unbelievable.  When you look closely there are all these little details, steps cut into the rocks, faded decorations and carvings, hidden entries set back into the rock walls forming little porches at the front of the tombs and houses.

Amazing what you see when you look beyond the surface!

There is a lot to see when you take the time.  But I look forward to getting back into the Siq Gorge and out of the direct sun.

The weather has worn the decorative details a way but the terraces on the rock where rooms have been hollowed are easily identified.  In places nature has formed the rock into weird shapes like the rock has melted and dripped to form natural pillars, you can almost imagine the towns people standing at the front doors greeting each other. 

There is so much more to Petra...!

The rest is welcome as my feet ache, but it's thru the gorge we go.

Horses some with carriages go rushing past with those to lazy to walk back, my heart skips a beat everytime I see one slip on the smooth rock surface, and I wonder how many have broken a leg being pushed to exhaustion in this heat.  One is so hot and tired his head is down and you can hear him wheezing for breathe.

I am really struggling with the cruelty I see around me, in such a beautiful place.  Don't tourist realise they are paying to have these creatures pushed to their limits, I would rather suffer myself than put my suffering and tiredness onto them.

We reach the robbed man and his Camel and sit for a while to rest my weary legs.

Can you see it now?!

As we come to the last bend before exiting the gorge, we com across a horse that has collapsed, it is still attached to the carriage, the poor thing his wheezing and foaming at the mouth.  The owner is just standing there with whip in hand yelling orders to his colleagues, I hope he is yelling for water.  To my disbelief the tourist is still sitting in the carriage waiting as by some miracle this poor horse is going to get back up and take them the rest of the way.

I can hold my tongue no longer and I step up the carriage and... "you might as well walk the rest of the way you've nearly killed one horse you want to kill another!", they are stunned and go to reply as I turn walk over to horse and slowly poor the rest of my water over his head.  But I am forced to stop as the owner starts yelling at me and with words I don't understand but gestures I do, I leave telling him I am going straight to the Tourist Police office to report him.

As we exit the gorge and make our way up the gravel track that leads to the entrance it occurs to me that I haven't seen one animal be given water all day.ba

The last hill that takes us to information center is the hardest, after 8 hours walking in this heat, a cold drink and a sit down are well earned.

Watching the people milling about, I find the Tourist Police office, I debate making a report, the signs say to report animal abuse, but do they really care, I can't help it I have to speak up!

I wait at the counter and a officer approaches, and greats me in English, whew, at least he will understand me.

I tell him about the Donkey owner and his over zealous whip, and the animals tied up at the fence unable to move with no water, he tries to assure me that they do get water on their breaks, and then I when I question this and inform him about the collapsed exhausted horse in the Siq Gorge, questioning if he thinks it would have happened if it had had enough to drink, he says he will look into these situations.  I thank him and say "I apologise if I am being pushy and sound angry but the cruelty to any animal is upsetting and I couldn't walk away without saying anything. 

He is actually quite understanding and gets on his radio to his colleagues.  I am hoping he is getting them to investigate but I think maybe he saying something like 'I have another crazy western lady here!'  I hope it is the former.

Having said my piece I sit outside and down another cold drink, and OMG is that Sylvester Stallone, no it's just some one who looks just like him down to the Rambo outfit and muscles.  I can't help but laugh to myself.  I wish I had snuck a photo!

Why is our hotel at the top of a hill...?  Arrggghh it's a bit of a slog I will admit, and when I finally get there all I can think of is shower...!!!!

Feeling refreshed I sit out the front with a coffee as the others slowly return, I am glad I am not the only one who is knackered!

Husam arranged for us all to meet in the lobby and we head out as a group for dinner.  We come to this non-descript shop front and make our way upstairs to 'My Mums Recipe'.

The place is fantastic!  Traditional fabrics and loungers decorate the room, beautiful traditional lamps hang from the ceiling, I love it.  

My Mums Recipe, best restaurant in Petra!

Freshly baked bread and a variety of dips cover the table and OMG they are sooooo delicious!   I try something new and order an iced Hibiscus tea, and one sip and I am addicted, so buying this when I get home!

Hibiscus Tea, it's red. it's delicious!

Sitting with my roomie Diana we start chatting with a lovely couple from England Hanna and Zoe, the great debate as to what to order as everything seems so fantastic.  I order traditional Kofta and I can't wait!  All that walking has worked up an appetite.  As the conversation gets louder and more relaxed our food arrives, and WOW, served on a little bronze BBQ it looks and smells amazing!

Koftah! So delicious!

It is as delicious as it looks, can't fault the food at all!  It is huge and too much for me!

You would think that after such a long hot exhausting day the conversation and laughter would quieten down while we eat but no!  These girls are a hoot and I can tell there is going to be some fun and antics on this trip with them involved!

Husam just sits back and smiles at us, I guess he is used to crazy tourists, he gracefully answers every question that is fired at him from across the table, sometimes just laughing with a shake of his head.

I am quite surprised when a storm hits, its like home in Queensland they hit suddenly and disappear as quickly.  But it is a nice relief from the heat.

With dinner over we head back to the hotel and it is nice walk in the soft rain... but there is that driveway again a steep climb up!

Diana and I chat for a while before we crash out.  Good nights sleep will help the tired legs!

Posted by TracingTheWorld 06:55 Archived in Jordan

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