I was quite surprised to see a familiar face at the bus station as I waited to board the 6:30 a.m. bus to Petra. Alejandro, one of the guys I met in the hostel in Cairo, was also taking the same bus. This trip has been a pleasant surprise in that I've never really had to travel alone so far.
The bus dropped us off at Petra by 10 a.m. and we headed to Saba'a hostel where we stayed the next two nights. After putting down our stuff, Alejandro and I immediately set off for the ruins. I was a bit disappointed when I found out the ticket cost 50 JOD + an additional 10 JOD for 3 days entrance. For those of you who may not know, the dollar is less than the Jordanian dinar which means that 60 JOD is equivalent to about $75. I mean I was excited to see one of the Seven NEW wonders of the world, but not excited to dish out half of my savings to do so!
But I paid and in we went. Alejandro and I were a bit unsure about Petra, and though excited to see it, worried boredom would overtake us by the third day. After all, how many rocks can you look at and still truly find them interesting.
Ultimately, my time at Petra entirely surpassed any and all expectations I had. The first day I walked in awe in a crevice between two unimaginably tall walls of rock. After walking by impressive rock after more impressive rock the treasury suddenly comes into view and it is amazing.
We spent the rest of the day slowly exploring the first half of Petra; wandering into caves, climbing up ancient staircases to find more caves, and talking to the Beduins who live there. By 5 p.m. we called it a day figuring we should at least leave something to explore for the next day.
However, the next morning I overheard the owner of the hostel talking to some other guests about a river that ran through Petra, deep enough to swim in. The idea of a body of water running through Petra seemed as foreign to me as a man living on the moon. But I was definitely interested since Alejandro and I'd been walking and climbing out in the middle of this rock desert in 100 degree heat with no shade except for brief instances inside a cave.
So that day we set out with the intention of climbing the thousand steps to the Monestary but more importantly finding the natural swimmingn pool. The monestary was even more awe inspiring then the treasury. From there we climbed the Sacrifical Mount which had an amazing view of the Jordan mountains and even Palestine and Israel. We later came back to watch the most amazing sunset ever from this point.
After all that climbing we set off down many wrong turns to find the river. As the sun came close to setting we were starting to become discouraged until we met Sail, a Beduin boy. We sat and drank sweet tea with him and watched the stars from the top of Petra. He promised to take us to the river the next morning before we had to catch our bus.
After talking with Sail, Alejandro and I set off the steep climb down the Monestary stairs by the light of the full moon. When we finally reached the bottom we ran into Sail's brother Abdula who convinced us to go back to the Beduin Villiage so we could go to a wedding party! The Beduin wedding was fantastic. Men and women were seperated and I spent all my time laughing and joking with the young beduin girls. They cheered as fire works went off and sang songs and beat drums until the early morning. We left long before they finished promising to meet Abdula the next morning so we could all go to the spring.
By 9 a.m. the following day we were back in the Beduin villiage where we picked up chicken and vegetables for a lunch we'd eat when we got to the water. After hours of climbing and scrambling and leaving the donkeys behind because the path go too steep, we finally came to, not only a river, but a waterfall with a swimming basin! Before jumping in Abdula and Sail made the best food I've ever tasted (on par with Mensaf) over an open fire, along with tea, and arguilah.
Following lunch we had about half an hour to swim before we had to run out of Petra in less than half the time it took us to go in, in order to catch our bus back to Amman. The whole while back Abdula professes his love to me. He told me we could live in the caves as a happy couple for the rest of our lives. As much as I appreciated the offer I told him I had to refuse...I had many more months of traveling ahead and no time to spend living in the caves. Not in the near future. Perhaps one day though.