Published: April 19th 2009April 13th 2009
Treasury through the Siq
The first view of the Treasury
There is a generic term for the tribes of Jordan. They are called Bedouin. The Bedouin were desert people who understood the struggle of day to day life in the harsh desert climate. Part of their culture is based upon hospitality due to their environment. The Bedouins would welcome strangers passing through into their homes to escape the desert. People were given the best the home had to offer in regards to food and drink as well as a place to sleep. The Bedouins believed in taking in the strangers because it might be themselves that need a place to stay tomorrow.
In today's world, Bedouin hospitality is not lost. It has just changed slightly to the modern world. As a solo traveler, I think I was an easy target for Bedouin hospitality as one person isn't as overwhelming as a group. The hospitality meant tea for me.
While walking down to the Petra ruins I was offered tea 3 times in less than one kilometer. When coming out of the dried river bed in Wadi Muthlim, a Bedouin family had a kettle going in the middle of nowhere and offered me tea. Everywhere I went people wanted me
From the adjacent hilltop
to sit and drink tea with them. At first I accepted as it seemed to make them happy when I said yes and it would be rude to continually ignore their requests, it quickly got out of hand though. Not only did I miss a shared taxi to check out Little Petra, I also missed a much needed trip to the Post Office due to tea. Tea was starting to become my nemesis. I couldn't escape it, and it lurked knowingly in the corners of shops, the rock caves, and homes all around me. Slowly it crept in and took control of my life.
Quite simply, I had to go to the bathroom all the time. I have no problem with relieving oneself in nature, I just felt a little self-conscious over relieving oneself on what many consider to be an architectural wonder of the world. Everything was already considered a ruin and I didn't want to contribute to Petra's final demise.
Not sure if ruins are really my style. They are impressive in their duration and their magnitude especially without the use of machines. Yet as I look at the marvels that are Petra I find myself
Taking a smoke break while looking out over Petra from Urn Tomb
constantly thinking "why did they do it?" Maybe I am lazy or maybe I lack the desire to undertake substantial endeavors that are often first thought to be impossible, who knows really but I can't stop thinking and believing that they wasted their time. For what reason did they spend years carving into the mountainsides. To show off? Religious fear? In hope of being remembered (which if that is the case, I tip my hat to them as they certainly accomplished that)?
I was sitting atop Al-Habis fortress staring off into the cliffs of Umm-Al Biyara when I first began to question whether the Nabataeans effort was worth it. The day was filled with hiking over mountains and through some canyons checking out the famed city of Petra. These are considered to be some of the greatest ruins in the world. I admit that I was in awe of the walk through the Siq corridor as it opened up to reveal the Treasury. The carving was intricate and detailed aside from beautiful. The sandstone is multi-hued and the colors intensify as the sun shifts around during the day making it possibe to sit and stare at just this building
I can't imagine how this company chose it's name for canning sardines.
The Nabataeans spent a lot of time carving into mountainsides. Apparently they weren't so confident in their architectural skills to buid many free standing buildings (earthquakes occur around here) and therefore decided to carve into the mountains. I am betting this is the first pre-fab buildings in the world. The Nabataeans were smart enough to imitate the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Mesopotamians in architectural style. The elaborate structures of Petra have numerous tombs (over 500) that are intricately decorated and multi-floored. Of course not many of the second floors were actually carved out. Instead they often just built and impressive facade to tower over the one floor tomb. Again my laziness kicks in and I question why go to the effort of building a gaint facade with no purpose behind it. Taking the time to carve out scaffolding along the sides of the building in order to carve out a pointless artwork seems tedious. If you are going to all that trouble, make it a two story building. Besides later on you would be able to dump other bodies up on the second floor and no one would know. You wouldn't have to worry about making more
Monastery up high
monuments. By building that second floor, you would be saving time and labor giving your people more freedom for entertaining themselves. I am sure the Nabataeans would have enjoyed playing bocce ball or smack the camel with a stick and run over chiseling away at a mountainside. The games would be a lot less energy consuming (I guess that really depends on the camel) and a lot more fun.
The ruins did capture my attention and I really enjoyed wandering around the mountains and checking out all of the views. It was easy to escape the crowds as long as you climbed above them. Of course it is the random trash that really struck me as odd. Tin cans of various food sources were strewn about and litter seemed to be a problem that will have to be addressed in Petra's future.
After a light sandstorm, I had decided I needed a break from the sand and logically decided to head to the Gulf of Aqaba and the beaches there. Apparently I didn't register the word beach as a sandy place.
Beaches are a bit different in Jordan. Rather than the normal skin fest you have a much
more conservative crowd. Most of the Arab people were swimming fully clothed in the water. While the water was cold enough to understand keeping all of your clothes on, it was the Muslim modesty in public that led them to swim with their wardrobe.
I stayed out in the middle of nowhere were a presumed dive village will be established at some point in the future. For now, it was a place to stay with great views of the beach and the hotel restaurant that had two guys from Bangladesh who didn't speak a word of Arabic or English, and didn't know how to cook any of the menu items. It is kind of fun when you are giving cooking advice to the people who are getting paid to cook your meals. It was nice to relax, do some diving and read some books. It served it's purpose before I head back to Amman and get as many kebabs as I can.
There are more photos below