Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu

A trip to Petra, Jordan.

I guess I’ve been putting off this blog post long enough.
The title of this blog post is a popular Israeli folk song.  It literally translates to “Again peace will come upon us.”  Elisa was singing this song all day.  It got stuck in my head.

Our trip to Petra started at 6:40 when we were picked up from the hostel and taken straight to the border crossing.  I was semi-afraid to take this picture, but I took it on the sly…so I think we’re all good.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERASecurity when crossing the border was a series of nine Passport/Visa checks, one x-ray machine, and about $52.  When we were about halfway through the checks, we saw our first exciting sign!Welcome to Jor an!  As we three lovelies made it through,

we caught up with a bus driver named Abdul.  He was to be our guide.  We hopped on the bus and he explained his life story in about 5 minutes.  Apparently he’s been leading tours for 17 years.  Oy.  Our first stop was less of a stop and more of a drive by.  We drove through Aqaba, a city in south Jordan.  I was expecting Aladdin type shops and streets.  Instead, (I should have known…), we saw surprisingly modern stores and even a McDonalds and Quiznos.From Aqaba, we got on the road to Wadi Mousa and Petra.  95% of the journey looked like this:Very bleak and VERY desert.  We finally reached the city surrounding Petra that was built on these huge cliffs.  Simply driving through Wadi Mousa to get to the Petra site took 20 minutes.We parked at the site and got off the bus.  After 2 hours of drifting in and out on the bus, it sure was nice to stretch our legs a bit.  🙂  Here’s a map of the entire Petra site for future reference.Ignore the numbers and look at the red dots, for that is where I took pictures.  The first dot is the entrance to the visitors center.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAFrom here, there is a long walking path from Wadi Mousa to the entrance to Petra.  This is where, in ancient times, travelers and traders would make camp and rest after a long journey.

We saw a number of minor holes/caves in the cliffsides.  There are many of these throughout the entire trip, so I’ll show you two now and just imagine that they’re everywhere.  The first is before the Inner Siq or the narrow canyon.  The second is right when the Inner Siq turns into the Outer Siq and becomes much wider.As we walked down the path, the very first actual structures we found were the Djinn Blocks.

The Arabic name for the Djinn blocks, sahreej, is more prosaic for it simply means “cistern” – which they are not.  They are tower tombs, their shape suggesting that they may also have been symbols of the god Dushara, who in early Nabatean times was commonly represented by a block of stone.

Immediately following that, we saw the Obelisk Tomb:The Nabataeans lived here first.  That said, many others have lived in Petra throughout the course of history.  This makes it a very culturally diverse place with many different styles of architecture.  These obelisks represent the Egyptian style.

Despite the location in the middle of Jordan, this entrance was a hub for trading.  Wares were brought from all corners of the world.  Because of this, the common language was ancient Greek in “the market”.  That is why there is ancient greek written on the sandstone in certain places.At the end of the walking path is the official entrance to The Siq or Petra.  Here is where the tourist police are:Not the regular police.  They only police the tourists.  xD

To the right of this building is a dam that is one of the great feats of Petra.  The Nabataeans were excellent hydraulic engineers.  They built this dam to divert water when it rained.  Due to the nature of the valley, if it rained, within 30 minutes it would be a flash flood.  So the Nabataeans created the dam and a water system throughout the entire mountain that would bring the water to where it needed to be.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThis crevice in the sandstone allowed water to flow for miles…straight into the heart of the city.  They also had ceramic piping higher up in the rocks for the flow of even more water.  This civilization had a sophisticated water system way before its time.

Here’s the view of me walking into the Siq for the first time.  This is about when I started humming the Indiana Jones theme song.  Feel free to join me
SANYO DIGITAL CAMERASANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThe ground was semi-interesting.  For a good chunk of it, it was hardened sand-like concrete with small pebbles in it.  But at certain parts of the path, it had been overlaid with large stones.  It was explained to us that the Byzantine’s had put down the large stones but that only some had been recovered.Every fifty yards on alternating sides were tributes to gods and goddesses of the time.  However, they weren’t statues.  Their gods and goddesses were relayed in much simpler ways.  Here is one of them.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAAnother one of the civilizations that lived in the city believed in reincarnation (I’m sorry, I don’t remember which) and built many tributes to that belief.  Here is a stone structure in the middle of the street that represents reincarnation.  Notice that it’s smaller on one side and grows taller till suddenly it drops off (at the front).  This represents the aging process.  You start as a baby and get progressively taller until you level off…and then it ends.

At the front, it looks like a doorway.  This is actually a tribute to another one of their gods.  Here is a closer picture.  Basically, the two circles represent eyes and the line represents a nose.  Notice there is no mouth?  This symbolizes that God can see you…and smell you…but he cannot talk to you.Following that, there was a long stretch of straight walkway (which is quite unusual) and in the middle of the wall in this stretch were three tributes:Unfortunately, my tour guide didn’t stop here.  I managed to catch a snippit of someone else’s tour explaining that a summit of three great nations happened here.  Each shrine represents a God of each nation.  Though I researched, I wasn’t able to find any further information.  =\  I’m half convinced our tour guide skipped this part just to get ahead of the other tour guide.  Instead we stopped here, whereupon I had a totally Riley moment (from National Treasure) and said “Look…stairs…!”SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThis is about when my camera started to die.  So pictures became a little more sparse.  Right after this, though…I saw my first view of the treasury.  The treasury is the most famous part of Petra.  It was featured prominently in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as well as Transformers 2: The Worst Movie in the World.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then even later as the sun went down a little bit…What you can’t really tell (or maybe you can) is that the sand stone is a pinkish/purplish color.  It really is astounding.  When I got out into the sun, I tried capturing the contrast between a rock and the sand but it didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped.  Ah well, you get the gist.Inside the treasury corridor there are a bunch of Bedouins trying to sell you camel rides, donkey rides, cart rides back, souveneers, all kinds of fun stuff.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, maybe in this case) I had spent the very last of my money on crossing the border.  I had not a single Jordanian Dinar or New Israeli Shekel to my name.  Apparently this worked out in my favor because the guys just started giving me gifts.  I got a postcard and a lovely necklace.  They also started propositioning me.  Saying that they’d give me one dinar.  >_>  The equivalent of about $1.40.  Good to know I’m a cheap whore.

MOVING ON!

This is about where the narrow canyon (Inner Siq) ends and it opens up into a much larger area (Outer Siq).  This is called the Street of Facades and has numerous tombs for each of the civilizations that lived there.  This next shot is of the Sextius Florentinus Tomb.
SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAFollowing this, Abdul led us on a climb up one of the cliffs to get a better view of something across the way (what it was, he wouldn’t say).  Here is a close up of Uneishu Tomb (which is NOT on the map.  That one took me a while to figure out.  Yay for Google Images!) which is actually way up high.  The climbing was fun though. 😉Turns out, the thing Abdul wanted to show us was the theater across the street.  And admittedly, the view made the climb worth it.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAWhile the theater looks Roman, it was actually executed by the Nabataeans in the 1st century AD, as the shadow of Roman influence hung over the Near East.  It is carved into solid rock except towards the front on either side, where part of it was built freestanding.  Initially it could seat 3,000 people, but was later extended to finally hold about 7,000.  – Taken from the brochure.

From here, we headed down the cliff (after a minor photoshoot in a cave…see pictures at the end).  Once we were down at ground level again, we moved on.  Next to the Uneishu Tomb was the Urn Tomb.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAAnd though this started as just a tomb, when the Byzantine’s moved in, the added the entire bottom section (the arches) and converted it to a church.  The arches were holding up the church courtyard.  Next to the Urn Tomb was the Corinthian Tomb:And immediately on the other side is the Palace Tomb:At this point, Abdul let us wander off for about 15 minutes before we had to walk back to the bus.  Elisa, Arielle and I decided to head to the Byzantine church with a lovely mosaic on the floor.  So, once again, we were trekking up a large hill.  Here’s the floor and the ruins of the church.The detail work is simply outstanding…We exited the church and before heading back to the bus, I got a few shots of “across and down the street”.  Here is the Colonnaded Street:And what I think is Al-Habis Fortress:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAFinally, the three of us started heading all the way back.  We got all the way back to the outer stretch when we were informed that a horse-ride was included in the tour package.  Our tour guide verified it, so Arielle and I hopped on a horse and rode it back to the entrance.

However, our “horse-leaders” were determined to screw us over.  So they took us all the way back to the buses and tried to demand more money.

I was having NONE of that, so I tipped them as much as they should have gotten for taking us part of the way, and then walked off.  I’m sure I got a Bedouin curse placed on my head for it, but it was his fault. >_>

We got back on the bus and went to lunch (part of the tour).  Here is where, for the first time ever, I tried lentil soup.  I also tried lamb.  >_>  Maybe it was bad lamb, but it was really chewy…  I’ll stick with steak.  But HEY!  I tried new things!  HUZZAH!

From here it was but another two hour drive to get back to Israel.  As we went through customs (nine more passport/visa checks, customs, security, etc.) we got into a taxi on the other side and learned that Gadhafi was dead.  The taxi driver filled us in all the way back to the hostel.

Here, Arielle went to bed and Elisa and I decided to go for a walk.  We headed out to the boardwalk and walked up and down it for a while.  She got crappy ice cream and I got good ice cream.  xD  We came back and watched YouTube videos until about 11:30.

Next morning, we got on the bus at 10:00 and came back to Jerusalem.  WOOT WOOT!

It’s good to be home.

Here are some more fun “photo shoot” pictures of me at Petra.  More pictures will be coming when Elisa gets her internet up and running again.

Until next time!

Author: alisonlcohn

Graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Communications Advertising. Traveled a bit. Taught for two years. Administered aptitude tests for a while. Worked as a Training Associate for Guardian Mortgage and a Quiz Master for Geeks Who Drink. Now studying to get my Master's in Film in London, England. Nice to meet you!

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