March 27th: Wadi Musa/Petra, Jordan
At precisely 7:07 we departed from Saba’a with Dawson and Stefan for the gates of Petra. We had decided to tour together the second day, the more the merrier! By doing so, we effectively eliminated the unwanted male attention and offers for donkey rides, as well as having two more people to help figure out the route. However, the small children remained unaffected by a male presence and continued to bother all of us to buy postcards. These kids are meant to be in school, as there are regulations around this, however, as it was a weekend, they delighted in telling us ‘no school today!’ when we got after them for not being in school.
Petra first thing in the morning was great. Really no one there yet to obstruct photos or offer rides on any type of animal. We took a rest at the Treasury for about 45 minutes in order to see it sunlit, although we did not stay long enough to see it fully lit up. It truly is quite incredible. There was a rather cute kitten that spent the entire time we were there cuddling with us. Oh I wanted to bring it home with me! We also bore witness to possibly the strangest thing we’d seen during our trip (and that’s saying something): the enigma known as “green dress”.
While sitting at the Treasury, our attention was caught by a young (20’s) girl and a man with a camera. The girl was wearing this slinky, green silk dress cut down to there and slit up to here, with accompanying silky scarf and loosely waved hair. She proceeded to prance around barefoot in front of the Treasury, with every single male there oogling her, while her little photopgrapher friend snapped photos. Weird part being…no professional lighting, not even a light reflecting screen thingy, clearly not properly made up, and the photographers camera was not equipped to be a true professional quality camera. It was all very very peculiar and rather ludicrous.
Being quite over this debacle and not wanting to wait for the sun to fully creep over the Treasury, we moved on to hike up to the Place of High Sacrifice. This hike takes about 45 minutes or so going at a good pace and the view from the top is excellent. There’s not too much to see at the top otherwise and you can go down another direction but we came down the same way as it’s quicker and Stefan had to go in order to catch the bus to leave.
The remaining trio of us decided to do the Treasury overlook hike at this point. We were hiking right at high noon, which made it feel like foreverrr but I’m sure it is realistically also only about 45 minutes or so. It is a beautiful hike too with the rocks of the steps rippled with different colours and contours. There are also great views over the Roman theatre area.
At the top, we stopped at the wonderful Sameh’s camp. You wouldn’t believe who we met at the top – our dear friends Green Dress and her photographer. Luckily they seemed to be finished their photo session but we remained perplexed as to the purpose as her photo shoots and how she had hiked up in that green dress as there was no evidence of a costume change.
Anyhow! Sameh was lovely. He invited us to rest in his outdoor seating area, some carpets and pillows laid out on the rocks, covered by a tent, and chatted with us, giving us tea, and some cheese and pita. He also had some wee puppies, much to Dawson’s delight, called Whiskey and Vodka. Dawson spent a considerable amount of time having puppy snuggles, giving them treats and loves, to their delight. Sameh told us he could climb down the cliff in something like 7 minutes. He didn’t recommend we try the same! Lunch out of the way, we ended up taking an impromptu nap. Sameh thought this was pretty funny and when we woke up, offered to pick us up on his donkey later that afternoon when we were finished watching the sunset from the Monastery, seeing how sleepy we were! We agreed this would be great. In true Bedouin hospitality, as we departed, Sameh didn’t want to take any payment frorm us, though we insisted, and asked us to chose one memento each. We were truly touched.
The lure of a nap and a shower were great for Dawson, who abandoned us at that point. Lo and behold, all that attention we had succesfully avoided for the majority of the day came back instantly, as we were two girls alone again. Urgh! Regardless of this, we re-hydrated and set off up yet another steep set of stairs to the Monastery. This building is equally as beautiful as the Treasury, I think. AND, there are more cute baby animals located at the cafe there: a kitten and a baby goat, that Leah named Petri. Petri decided that he’d like to eat shoelaces, tshirt strings, and so forth, as opposed to any of the actual food we offered him. The kitten on the other hand, was really keen on the cucumber I had but not so much on the apple. Sadly, it was quite smoggy at the top so we didn’t get much of a sunset or view but we did get a ride home on Sameh’s 4-legged friend once we reached the bottom of the trail. Leah’s was a mule in fact, which apparently the Ferrari, whereas the donkey I got was much slower, “the diesel” as Sameh said. The total trip from the bottom of the Monastery to the entrance was 7JD each, not too bad!
1. If you’re planning to spend the day out in Petra, I’d highly recommend you take a packed lunch with you. It’s easy, reasonably priced, and not of sketchy quality. Our hotel offered this for 3.5JD and it was well worth it.
2. Do the Treasury Overlook hike first thing, a) because it is too stinkin hot later in the day and b) you will not be competing with all the other people milling around at the bottom for photos OR being bothered by children repeatedly. You’ll get the beautiful, fully sunlit view of the Treasury in peace!
3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! And wear a hat! We met a guy at the Monastery who was suffering from what sounded like heat stroke and clearly had not drank enough that day. We advised him to down an entire Gatorade tout suite and follow that up with like a litre of water and another Gatorade and he should be fine. We saw him about 10 minutes later, first bottle of Gatorade half completed, refusing to take a donkey back down to the bottom, yet still saying he might need an ambulance. You cray, dude, you cray.
4. If you’re going to stay for sunset, be aware that washroom facilities close somewhere around 5pm and a bumpy donkey ride back to the gate does not make a full bladder feel happy. Either prepare to squat behind a rock or hold it!
5. Be firm but kind. We so enjoyed our time with Sameh and if we’d automatically assumed he was just trying to make a buck, we would’ve missed out on that. Conversely, he was also not very pushy or obnoxious. Just classic Bedouin chill. Thanks Sameh!