Camels Donkeys and Horses
We had to say goodbye to the lovely group at the Dana Hotel. It was time to move on, and what was intended on being at most two nights turned easily and happily into four. It was a bit awkward at first, as we were not planning on staying, and hadn’t known how small town was before arriving, so we did not have enough cash to cover our bill. Food and board was 10JD a day per person. This was good, as the meals were great. Still we only had 58JD to our name, with an 80JD bill! Oops. Suliman was good about it and talked to the taxi driver. Ibrahim. Ibrahim was nice and spotted Anna & me the extra 30JD we needed, until we reached Wadi Musa.
After compulsory cups of Chai, we said our goodbyes again and were off. Ibrahim took us through the Kings Highway and we got to see fantastic views of Wadi’s and hills. A lot of these are sandstone, and are wearing away in strange and unique patterns. A lot of them looked like the sandcastles you make as a child. You dig a hole in the sand until there is water in it. Grabbing handfuls of wet sand and drisling it through your fingers to create individual droplets of sand on the ground. Repeating this untill you have created a vast castle with peaks and gullies. The rocks here look like that. We also passed many camels. On talking to the driver he said they were good camels, but to us they looked a little scraggy. they were gaining their winter pelt, and very skinny, they are also a lot smaller than Gypsy from Nyrripi, and the Mimili Camel. There were also plenty of donkeys, and the occasional horse. Anna had to take photos of all of them.
On the way to Wadi Musa (the town next to Petra) we stop by little Petra. Our driver will wait for us to do a walk around. Little Petra, or Siq Al-Barid, is a sort of suburb from Petra. The experts think it was an agricultural and trading centre and a resupply post for camel caravans going to Petra.
It is much smaller than its famous neighbour, so an hour or two should do us. At the entrance are the mandatory souvenirs shops, but further in there are none. It is peaceful as there are not too many people. We wander into the siqand come across a few carvings in the side walls.
Then a big facade appears. This is carved out of the stone walls in the same manner as Petra. It is huge. There are two sections, a bottom section and a top section. Checking out the bottom, there were a few bedouin guys there, and they show us the way up. It looks dangerous, as you have to climb up the side then swing yourself around the rocks about 5m up. Anna and I decide to skip it and climb up a staircase nearby. It winds around the rock, so worn in places that it almost disappears. At the end it comes out on the rocks a little way away from the main building.
The rock has been flattened, probably to have a house, or carve a building into the wall, that they never got around to. Sophia & David catch up, and look around when we yell out. Seeing us up there, they start to come over, but meet up with the Bedouin below us. They try out the ascent to the top section of the building and disappear from sight. Going back down was a little tricky, as the stairway was not that good. David is still at the bottom, but Sophia has managed to make it to the top. Andrew decides to give it a go. A bit of climbing and one tricky section and he is also at the top. David ditches his shoes to do it barefoot, and also makes it up. Anna stays on the ground to take the photos. The top section is basically an empty rectangle with two rooms off to the sides. There is nothing in there at all. The stone columns that are helping to support the building are carved directly from the stone, and although simple, are quite impressive. We get a few photos taken and make our way back down. There are two ways down. The quick way is jumping from the top, and the hard way of climbing back the way we came. Going down was easier than going up for some reason, and we all got back with no mishaps. Wandering further along the Siqthere are some small shrines but no more major structures except for one.
It is a small climb up the hill and inside there is a large fence, from floor to ceiling. This is to protect the last remaining decorations in any tomb. There are two small patches where there is still painted stucco on the roof. It is a tree and leaf type of pattern with cherubs in it. It is amazing that it still exists, and we were happy to see it.
Having checked out all the buildings, we wander further up where the canyon walls start to reconnect. There is a rough sign pointing up the canyon to a good view. On going up we hear David and Sophia calling. They had one-upedus. There was a staircase we had seen on the other side, but not gone up. This went fairly high and they were calling from the top of it. We continued up the small stairway in the narrow crack in the wall. At the top was a stall with a bedouin guy sitting there, he invited us over, and being cautious, we said that we just wanted to see the view.
He came over and started pointing out what we were looking at. Petra about two hours walk that way. Palestine this way, And Wadi Araba over there. It was a good view. We went and sat with him on the mat waiting for the other to join us, and had a good talk. He was born in these hills, and lived there all his life. Learning english from tourists and making a living selling souvenirs. Noticing something on his leg we asked if it was a tattoo. It wasn’t. He had had a very slow day and was drawing on his leg. It looked like a replica of the fresco we had just seen and asked about it. It was a copy, but he did not know the significance of it. He calls himself Camel Boy, and invited us back to talk and have tea any time we wanted, and that he would show us where he lives. It is a nice offer, and we get his phone number. (Unfortunately we still have not contacted him, as we have met so many nice people in the area).
Our driver has come to find us by this stage, and wants to go, although he was happy to wait while we talked to camel boy. Going back out of the Siq, our driver asks if we want to stay in a bedouin camp, and we say we would be interested if the price is right, so he drives us out to a nearby camp. This is a resort, not a camp, and the tents are concrete buildings with blanket roofs. Not what we were expecting. Sitting down with a cup of tea, we talk about staying there, and are told that for the four of us it would be 120JD each night. 30JD a person. We politely say no, finish our tea and head off to Wadi Musa. Here there is a hotel that we can get a private room with en suite for 12JD a room. More in line with our budgets. The only issue is that the shower is cold. Still it is a lot better than 60 per couple.
So here we are in the town near Petra, itching to go in the morning. We have to get our sleep.