Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Petra - One of the Seven Wonders

Today we hiked in and out of Petra, a deep valley within walking distance of our hotel that is lined with the burial monuments and temples. Most of the most spectualar monuments are craved into the sandstone walls of the valley. This was the setting for part of one of the Indiana Jones movies-The Temple of Doom.

It was a 2 and one half mile hike down to the main part of the burial tombs. We passed through a narrow opening in the high sandstone walls. It was quite dramatic and the colors of the walls in reds, browns,orangesand even some blues and greens was so pretty. One could pay to have a donkey or donkey cart take passengers up or down so all these animals added to the atmosphere. Two of our members took this option on the return as it had gotten so hot.

The hub of activity seemed to center around the Treasury which is the most famous carving in Petra. Camel rides were available in this area. Merlyn was the first take a ride and Connie, Ginny, Beth, and Barb followed. It was fun!

Petra is a burial site for the Nabatean culture, an ancient civilization which started in the 3rd century BC. It continued on through the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine eras until a major earthquake in 363 C.E. In 1812 a Swiss archaeologist saw it and made it more well known in the West. Comparing paintings done in 1812 and the current conditions show how the weather has continued to take its toll on the carvings.

Some bits of information we learned from our guide. . . In Eastern cultures silence denotes wisdom so the statues of the gods were carved into the facades they had no mouths since they were considered infinitely wise. In later times some of the burial tombs were used as places of worship. Christian churches would face east, synagogues would face west, and mosques would face Mecca which in Jordan is south.

There were vendors set up along the way selling souvenirs of all kinds including jewelry, postcards, sand art, and rocks. Many children were the sellers. When anyone purchased we tried to bargain to get a better price. Pastor Bill got the price of some necklaces reduced and when the little girl said she would use the money to buy a Bible he agreed.

We stayed together as a group through the tour and after lunch we made our way back on our own in small groups. One of our group, Joanie, went to the Royal tombs up many steps while her husband waited below. Groups of school girls were intrigued that Joanie would be touring around without her husband. While she was on her own she was proposed to by a young Jordanian man to be his third wife.

Everyone made it back to the hotel by mid afternoon and everyone was very glad for a shower or swim in the hotel pool. We had another delicious buffet dinner and we will be leaving Jordan for the Dead Sea tomorrow.


1 comment:

  1. I've been reading the most interesting accounts of your trip. It appears that people take turns writing in the blog. I'm so impressed that you all take the time to write after your very full days!! Byrna