Saturday, October 9, 2010
Family Wonder #2
You've all heard of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. The first one our family had the chance to visit was the Great Wall of China. And now we've visited our second wonder: the ancient rock city of Petra.
Our guidebook starts its section on Petra with the sentence "Petra is incredible." Not very descriptive, perhaps, but definitely accurate.
We went with a group from the Embassy, and our guides were a woman who works with the Petra National Trust and an archeologist who works at the site. The woman pointed out many projects that have been funded or otherwise supported by the Embassy (and you, the U.S. taxpayer) - I suppose that's why we rated such knowledgeable guides. They spent about 4 hours walking us through the site, giving us the basic history and pointing out things I never would have noticed or understood on my own. It was, as the guidebook stated, incredible.
We didn't take the girls, because we weren't sure they could handle it. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive there, and we had to leave by 7 a.m. so we could return before dark. (Apparently you don't want to be on the King's Highway after dark, because sleepy truckers will just park in the middle of the Highway to nap, and bedouins bed down their livestock right in the roadway after the sun sets.) The hike itself might have been too much for them - we probably walked a good 5 miles across the site, and we didn't even see the whole thing. For example, we didn't think we'd make it up to the Monastery and back in time to meet the bus - and as it turns out, folks who did it said the donkey ride up was pretty treacherous, so just as well we didn't try with the boys.
What we saw, though, was just amazing, and I'm so glad we had the chance to go.
The archeologist pointed out this carving, which I would've walked right by without noticing. See the feet? That was a man, leading a camel caravan into the city. Behind him you can see some camel feet, and even, if you look closely, the camel bellies (aside: our archeologist also noted that about 60% of the city is estimated to be undiscovered thus far).
That's Bart and Shay, up at the top of those stairs.
The much-photographed entrance to the Treasury.
The Treasury itself.
We climbed way up there...
See? There we are at the top. Look behind us - we used to be way down there...
We bought some souvenirs from this bedouin, who told us, in excellent English, that he grew up in one of these caves. The bedouins weren't forced to move out until the 1980s.
There were horses, and donkeys, and camels, any of which you could ride if you were willing to pay the Bedouins who own them.
I'm not sure why, but quite a few of the young Bedouin guys seemed to be taking sartorial tips from Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Carribean.
Aidan rode Bob Marley the horse up the last incline. He was reluctant to do it, but ulitmately said it was the best part of the day.