My driver Mohammad picked me up early, he’d been married to an Italian wife and lived all over the country for over 20 years, so we talked all the way driving South about how much we appreciated it’s food and all things created of Italian beauty. My new car companion of useful facts also told me about Jordan’s intriguing desert landscapes as we passed cement factories, chicken farms and plutonium mines.
Before I knew it we had arrived in Petra. As I grabbed my bottle of water, camera and factor 50 sun lotion his advice to avoid the donkey rides and tourist guides was appreciated.
I walked everywhere, in total I must have covered up to over 15 miles climbing more than 200 steps in just over 5 hours.
Was it worth it? In essence it has to be one of my all time favourite experiences not only do I love Indiana Jones and the adventitious exploits of Stephen Spielberg’s main character from which The Last Crusade was shot in Petra. I truly felt I was able to explore the back paths of the ancient city in complete isolation without the mass groups of wandering tourists with selfie-sticks.
This gave me a much greater appreciation of the tremendous landscape from which Petra has been created. Both the Exchange and the Monastery are immensely impressive pieces of man made architecture carved and formed out of the red sandstone rock face. In a sense nothing seems to have changed much, in a world where financial and religious institutions vie for the most influential of architectural statements.
However the whole legendary 1.2 km long approach through the high sided Siq has to go down as one of my favourite spatial experiences, the high sided cliffs seem like they have been pulled apart by massive tectonic forces that leave you mystified by every twist and turn as you navigate down into the open courtyard that then reveals the ancient city below.
Looking around past the tombs, palaces and temples you can see how nature plays a really important part in the everyday of this ancient city particularly through the use of water and hydronic engineering.
Exhausted, hot and hungry I still hadn’t covered everything. As I made my way to the main exit past the proliferation of souvenir stalls and shops, I was content with having a very small reminder of the most magnificent of memories, that natures beauty can excel mans achievements in a very small imperfectly formed red sand stone pebble in my hand.