Little Petra

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January 30th 2013
Published: February 1st 2013
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The dogs went off just before 7.30am this morning. Obviously Ahmad exaggerated when he told us that we would be woken at 5.30am when all the dogs start running around playing and barking. I guess the dogs are on winter time too?? Absolutely too cold to think about using the basic showering facilities (didn't even check to see if there is hot water, but I think not) so we made do with a bit of a wash at the hand basin. If you get hat hair from wearing a hat and bed hair from sleeping what do you get when you wear a hat to bed?? A really bad hair day!! Thank goodness I'm not trying to impress anyone with my personal grooming.

We had a quick bit of breakfast and then we headed off on our jeep ride around Wadi Rum. Actually it wasn't a Jeep it was an ancient Toyota Hilux twin cab ute. We had the option of riding in the cab or in the back. Bernie hopped in the back and I rather stupidly joined him. When Ahmad opted to ride in the cab I should have known that he realised just how cold it was going to be!!! I'm so glad we stopped before we had gone very far to take photos of the stunning vistas in every direction. When we re-loaded after the photo stop I made sure that I was in the cab. Bernie continued to tough it out - all by himself - in the back which was set up with troop carrier-styled seating.

We made a couple more stops - each one with stunning 360° views. The sandstone hills and chasms are very photogenic. In fact, Ahmad told us that the clarity in Wadi Rum after the rain yesterday made up for the haziness that we encountered at Umm Qays on Sunday. He said that he has never seen Wadi Rum so clear. While a little reminiscent of the Painted Desert or Monument Valley in the US or even the Fairy Castles in Cappadocia, Turkey, the formations here are distinctly unique. The surfaces look rather like melted candle wax that has run down the side of a candle. At one of the stops the driver ground up some red sandstone to demonstrate how the coloured sands were used in the past as cosmetics!

At one of our stops at another of the desert camps the camp cat was a really strange orange colour. Ahmad thought it looked like it had been eating raw meat and was bloody. Bernie thought that it might have been sitting on the orange seating cushions when they were wet. It turned out that it had been dyed with henna. Ahmad asked if we had seen a dyed cat before. We said no dyed cats, but we had seen some dyed poodles.

Our final stop was at one of the natural stone arches that are common throughout Wadi Rum. The one that we saw was only a small one, but Ahmad told us that the longest natural arch in the world - at 75 metres - is located in Wadi Rum. We piled back into the Hilux and the driver turned the key and ... nada. Oh no, don't tell me the unbreakable Hilux ute is broken??! The driver persevered and eventually it turned over and we were able to complete the loop back to our camp which it turned out was only about two minutes drive away. Phew, even if the Hilux was broken we could have walked back to where the hire car was parked; we didn't even come close to being stranded in the desert!!

With our bags already in the boot, it was back into the Peugeot for our journey to Petra. Ahmad collected us on Saturday in a Peugeot 203 hatch-back, but this has now been upgraded to a 206 (small sedan with a boot) which can accommodate luggage for three people a bit more comfortably. Since the initial part of this trip was back along the Desert Highway I promptly fell asleep. Fortunately I woke up just before we reached the turn off to take the King's Highway to Wadi Moussa where the ancient city of Petra is located.

Once again Ahmad made a couple of stops along the way so that we could take panoramic photos over the Petra Mountains. The vista included (Moses' brother) Aaron's tomb atop the mountain under which Petra itself lies.

Arriving in the modern village of Petra, Ahmad pointed out the hotel that we would be checking into and then continued on to Little Petra. Little Petra was sort of like the freight depot for the ancient city as this is where the traders came to pay the toll to the Nabateans for using the ancient incense trade route that they controlled and to offload their wares and take on new ones.

Like Petra, Little Petra is entered via a siq (passage between mountains) and is quite impressive in its own right with the remains of a number of few buildings still visible in the cliffs. Although many of the ceilings are black with soot from the fires of later occupants there is one building that boasts the remains of a colourful fresco featuring vines and cherubs playing flutes.

Ahmad drove us back to the hotel mid-afternoon where he left us to our own devices until 9.00am in the morning when it will be time for the main event - at last we will set eyes on the ancient city of Petra.

We wandered down to the main street for another late lunch and then we browsed in the shops for a while. We bought another snow globe for Bernie's colleague who collects snow globes and then we had a couple of very special souvenirs customised for some work mates at my office. I hope they appreciate the extra two Dinars that we paid to individualise these magnificent pieces!! We thought that it was worth it to watch the very beguiling young man undertake the work.

The man at the restaurant and the other vendors all seemed to think it might snow tomorrow for our visit to the ancient city of Petra. We'll see tomorrow I suppose? We have photos of the Blue Mosque in the snow, why not Petra?!

Steps for the day: 10,067 (6.86 kms)

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