We crossed the border from Egypt into Jordan by ferry to get to Petra, one of the new seven wonders of the world. It took us all day to get here. We took a taxi from Mt. Sinai to Nuweiba, then boarded a ferry(which left 3 hours later than scheduled) to Aqaba and finally, took a shared taxi to Petra.
We started out the next morning, through the siq, which is the only entrance/exit into Petra. The siq is a long and narrow gorge that opens up into a valley. Because the siq is 240 feet high and more than half a mile long, the Nabataeans who lived here more than 2200 years ago could easily defend their land against attacks, and could monitor those who entered Petra for trade.
The Nabataeans built dams to keep the valley from flooding. They carved temples, tombs and monasteries into the sandstone rocks. And the Romans who came after them built theatres and columned streets. In modern times, the Bedouin lived in the caves that were left behind by previous occupants. It wasn’t until the mid 1980’s that the Bedouin were relocated to a nearby housing project. And although it became forbidden to live in Petra, the Bedouin still work in Petra offering horse, mule and camel rides. They own shops selling souvenirs and jewelry, and have cafes and restaurants.
Towards the end of the day, Mike and I climbed up to see the Monastery and to check out the spectacular views from above. We were invited to watch the sunset on the Monastery with Abed who’s family owns the shop opposite the Monastery. He played the oud and sang traditional Bedouin songs while we sipped sweet mint tea. Watching the color of the sandstone change on the Monastery as the sun went down was beautiful and serene.
Once the sunset, Abed suggested we head down the before there was no light to lead our way. Although the hike up to the Monastery was not difficult, it did take about 30 minutes, so I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of heading down in the dark. Fortunately, Abed’s cousin was heading down at the same time, so he led the way, otherwise I’m quite certain we may have gotten lost on the way down.
Aside from the lights casting out from a few shops along the way, it was pure darkness with only the stars shining so bright above us. We didn’t have a flashlight, instead we used the light from our mobile phones to lead the way back to the entrance of the siq, which took about 45 minutes. It was fantastic to walk through Petra at night, as we had the whole place to ourselves.