Thursday, April 9, 2015

Indiana Jones Wanna Be

Day three of our Jordan adventure started early.  

ALERT - I have filled this blog with pictures. This adventure was so visual there is no way to put into words the experience. So, I apologize in advance if this takes up a lot of memory on your computer. I think it is worth it.  :-)

Our hotel in the town of Wadi Musa was directly across the street from the entrance to Petra so we could easily join Nader and start the long trek into Petra.

Both of the hotels where we stayed on this trip served instant coffee. It reminded me of our trips to Greece and Turkey.
Located amid rugged desert canyons and mountains in what is now the southwestern corner of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Petra was once a thriving trading center and the capital of the Nabataean empire between 400 B.C. and A.D. 106.

Petra is sometimes referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World.

Several scenes from the Hollywood blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were filmed in Petra. The movie's fictional Canyon of the Crescent Moon was modeled on the eastern entrance to Petra, a 250-foot-high (76-meter-high) sandstone slot canyon known as the Siq that leads directly to Al Khazneh (the Treasury)—perhaps the most stunning of Petra's dozens of breathtaking features.

In the film's climactic final scenes, actors Harrison Ford and Sean Connery burst forth from the Siq and walk deep into the labyrinths of the Treasury in their quest to find the Holy Grail. But, as usual, archaeological fact bowed to Hollywood fiction when Indy came to Petra.

In reality, the Treasury is nothing more than a facade with a relatively small hall once used as a royal tomb.

As we entered the long gorge leading to the Treasury, I could not keep myself from humming the theme to Indiana Jones and looking for familiar formations from the movie.

DW, SW and D chose to wear the traditional Arabian head dress. They reminded me of our head coverings we wore in Arica. Don't they look like explorers? 

Notice the nice flat surface D is standing on.  These stones were originally put down by the Romans. We did not have good footing like this very often. Mostly we walked on loose rocks.

Hubby D and I watched the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade just before we left for this adventure. The pictures in the movie of the Treasury and the gorge are amazing and we looked forward to seeing them in person. Harrison Ford is one of my personal favorite actors.
Aqueducts were originally built into both sides of the gorge.
D is checking out one of the aqueducts.
DW found a tree in the gorge. Amazing it could survive here.

Nader explaining some carvings.
This was originally a man leading two camels. You can see his legs and the bellies of the camels.

Our first glimpse of the Treasury between the walls of stone.

The Treasury is really named Al Khazneh and according to Wikipedia, and was originally built as a mausoleum and crypt at the beginning of the 1st Century AD. Its Arabic name Treasury derives from one legend that bandits hid their loot in a stone urn high on the second level. We could see significant damage from bullets on the urn. Another legend is that it functioned as a treasury of the Egyptian Pharaoh at the time of Moses.

It was pretty impressive.
There was a coffee shop squeezed up next to the rock wall opposite the Treasury. We could sit there and marvel at the engineering used when it was constructed thousands of years ago.
Nader shared his vast memory database of information with us about the architecture and the history of Petra.
Lost in translation - Sign says, "Orange Juice, Limon Juice, Cocktail, Pomegranate, Limon Withe Mints."
The required selfie.
SW, DW and I having tea.
Everywhere we went, DW found a friend.
This is a short video taken in front of the Treasury  If you are reading this in an email, you will need to go to my blog page to view the video. 

Established possibly as early as 312 BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans according to Wikipedia, Petra it is a symbol of Jordan, as well as Jordan's most-visited tourist attraction. It lies on the slope of Jebel al-Madhbah (identified by some as the biblical Mount Hor) in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.

The city is filled with archeological treasures beyond the Treasury

Modest hill side tombs for the "common folk."
This is the main trail leading to the city. Over our shoulders in the background is probably a valley where most of the people lived.
This was the main avenue, the cardo maximus as Nader told us.
Nader sharing information about the history of the city of Petra.
The corners of these columns had elephant heads. The trunks were broken off long ago. In the background are the Royal Tombs.

The rock formations alone were dramatic!
Here is a video taken of the area between the Treasury and the other caves. There were massive tombs built into the side of the mountains. These were Royal Tombs.

Although the Treasury is probably the most famous part of Petra, another site is just as dramatic and in fact, larger than the Treasury - the Monastery.

To get to the Monastery, you must climb up the side of a rock mountain. There are over 800 steps. Everyone except ES chose to take burrows up the mountain. ES climbed up by foot and came down by foot. He wasn't even sore the next day.  Amazing.

The ride up the mountain scared me to death as the animals walked right along the edge of the mountain. I was so scared my hands started cramping from holding on so tight.  Needless to say, you won't see any video or photos taken during that time.
I took this photo of the stairs after I was off the burrow.

You climb up behind the Monastery and then walk around a corner on the path. As you round the corner, it is right in front of you.  When each of us rounded the corner, you could hear a gasp. It was unbelievable.
To understand the scale of this structure, those are people you see at the door. 
D and I climbed up a hill behind the Monastery and were rewarded with this view. 

DW and SW took burrows down the mountain.  I couldn't do it, it was just too steep and too scary for me.
Going down I felt much more confident and took a few photos.

The way down was long, but not nearly as frightening as the trip up the stairs on the burrows. When we reached the base of the mountain, there were camels for hire to ride back to the Treasury. We decided to take the camels. It was much more enjoyable a ride than we had when we were in Dubai. 

I thought this was funny that the camel is watching Doug take a picture. 
We stopped at a coffee shop/cafe before starting the trek back to the Treasury.

My camel kept trying to kiss D's camel. Or, at least that what it looked like to me. 

D was surrounded by children selling things when we arrived back at the Treasury. He must have looked like an easy mark.
From the Treasury to the very door steps of our hotel, we rode on horse back.
In one day we trekked through Petra, climbed a mountain, rode a burrow, rode a camel and rode a horse. SW said if they had ostrich, we probably would have ridden one.

YES, if you are wondering . . . both D and SW tried to do the "Indy ride" on horseback when coming out of the Treasury. Let's just say they tried. They had fun, I am sure. 

Petra was truly amazing and we enjoyed learning about it as well as seeing it. 

I will finish this adventure in one last blog to come.  We had a memorable evening so be sure to read the next installment.


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