The Adventures of Sheep in the Rose-Red City

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After an early morning flight to Amman Thursday morning and an unexpectedly long and tiring combination of buses, cabs, and shuttles, I finally arrived to the small town of Wadi Musa in the Wadi Arabia valley of Jordan. Wadi Musa is a town run pretty much exclusively on tourism to the ancient, but uninhabited by anyone but Bedouins, city of Petra. I was traveling with Alexis, when we found a great deal for a hotel + food + Turkish bath package in Wadi Musa we found the motivation to make it out to Petra during our time in Lebanon and I am so glad we did. The first night we checked in the hotel owner took us on a short tour of Wadi Musa (there isn’t much to see), drove us over to Little Petra, and brought us to the sunset point overlooking the city before returning us to the hotel to an absolutely delicious, traditional Jordanian dinner.

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Our hotel room’s view of Wadi Musa.

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The entrance to Little Petra.

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A Bedouin woman making tea.

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The view of Wadi Musa from sunset point.

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If I remember right, it says “Welcome to Wadi Musa.”

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Right after dinner was the Petra by Night tour, an extra expense that was completely worth it. Our first time entering Petra was epic, after dark, walking through the Siq on a path lit by candlelight until reaching the Treasury, breathtakingly mysterious in its candlelit glory. We walked fast to get ahead of the crowd and were one of the first ones to reach the Treasury and I don’t know how, but one of the ushers chose us to get the best seats in the house. We had to wait on the edges of the normal seating area until the show started, but once it did this guy came and found us, brought us to the back of the area and helped us climb on top of a rock formation where we had the best view of the entire spectacle ahead of us. It wasn’t front row, which is what we were originally aiming for, but it was better the same way that sitting higher up in a movie theater is better than the first row. The show consisted of Bedouin musician playing a traditional rebab and a flute before some storytelling. It was a little on the boring side, I expected more, but the atmosphere of the place was magical. I’m glad we did the tour before actually visiting Petra and seeing it in daylight, it was like a tease that served to build up the anticipation for the full feature.

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Petra by night.

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The Treasury lit by candlelight.

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Great view from our rock.

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Group flash lights it up.

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Kitty kitty

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The next morning, we woke up stupidly early (6:15am, blergh) to get a yummy, fresh breakfast before making our way down to the entrance of Petra for our first real sight of the place. It was 100% worth it. We spent 7 hours walking around Petra, slowly making our way through the enchanting Siq for our first view of the Treasury in all it’s lit-up glory, climbing around old tombs and rocks, getting lost on mountains, exhausting ourselves, and generally being dumbstruck but how awesome it all is. We climbed hundreds of steps in the hot afternoon sun to see stunning views of the Siq and Treasury from above along with the imposing Monastery and amazing views of Petra and Wadi Arabia, reaching out all the way to Palestine. I’ll let the pictures do the talking:

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The Siq.

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Almost there!

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The Treasury, in all its glory.

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Fancy camels.

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This is why its called the Rose-Red City.

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Street of Facades.

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Needless to say, climbing two mountains and being on my feet the day after I got hit by a car made me a bit more than sore and tired. We were both cranky and tired by the time we reached the entrance and managed to avoid taxis wanting to rip us off by haggling a van ride by a guy from another hostel to drop us off at our hotel. He was so nice he didn’t even let us pay him. I didn’t think I would be able to walk for days at this point. All was not for nothing though! A Turkish bath came included with our hotel so after vegetating in our rooms for half an hour we slowly hobbled our way across the street to the most rejuvenating, perfect thing that could have happened to me at that point. Sitting in a hot steam room and rotating between the hot steam, a hot marble bed, alternating cold rinses, massages and scrubs for the next two hours made me feel like a new person. Seriously, I can’t even imagine what sort of shape I would have been in the next day if it wasn’t for that Turkish bath.

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The natural textures and patterns of the stone are stunningly beautiful.

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Palace Tomb.

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Epic Mountain #1. The climb was tough but this view made it worth it.

I think the most disappointing thing about Petra was the loss of the true Bedouin culture, turning this amazing historical relic of past civilizations into purely a money-making scheme. Every step you take on the main road, you are bombarded by “Bedoiuns” selling donkey/camel/horse rides, for a small fee and tip, of course. Though they won’t tell you about the additional tip until you take advantage of their service. And they will keep asking you over, and over, and over again no matter how many times you say no. The two long climbs to the top of the mountains were the best parts of seeing Petra because of the lack of constant harassment. It finally gave me the chance to stop and marvel at the beauty I was surrounded by and the land I was standing on instead of being bombarded with money-hungry “Bedoiuns.” Stores all around Petra and Wadi Musa were covered with references to Indiana Jones, since one of the movies was partially filmed there.

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This mule did not look very happy.

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The Colonnaded Street.

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Lion Triclinium. On the way up to the Monastery.

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Epic Mountain #2. The Monastery. Again, totally worth it.

While finally leaving Petra, we were bombarded with “Bedouins” trying to get us to take a “free” horse ride back, included in the price of the ticket. I already knew the ride wasn’t actually free and a tip would be demanded at the end, so when the same guy kept on trying to get me to take the horse ride despite me saying no every time he asked I finally told him to stop asking me. In return, he screams at me that this was “his business!” and why am I there if I don’t want to feed his business? Hmm, maybe I came for the “rose-red city have as old as time,” the ancient capital of the Nabataeans that controlled commercial trade routes of the area, cut directly and artistically from the stone mountains, an artificial oasis in the desert made from an excellent and advanced water conduit system. Wait that’s stupid, obviously I just traveled to another country to waste all my money pay fake Bedouins to ride their mistreated animals and deal with their sleazy attitudes. My bad.

And that’s on top of the now $80+ entry ticket to the site itself. Thanks to the New7Wonders contest, which ended up costing participating countries a small fortune, the entry price to Petra jumped from around $20 to four times that much practically overnight. Whereas I sucked it up and paid the 55JD fee for the 2-day pass into Petra, there was no way in hell I was throwing away all my money on these losers. Their behavior was pathetic, I can’t see any real Bedouin being happy about how these guys make their population look.

Despite bed experiences dealing with these “Bedouins,” I still had an amazing time in Petra and Wadi Musa thanks to the sheer beauty of Petra itself and the amazing hospitality of our hosts.

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View of Wadi Arabia.

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Sheep at the Monastery.

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Sheep at the Treasury on the way out.

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Proof of a long day in the desert.

About gabbyjockers

Just a student who loves to travel, eat, cook, have adventures and hang out with awesome people! I'm restless and want to see the whole world. Music powers me and I love listening to new things and going to shows with my crazy friends. I grew up in South Florida and made the move up to Boston for college as soon as I could. Right now I'm doing an internship in marketing for The Alleyway in Beirut and it's pretty exciting being here!

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