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Peeking into Petra

10th June 2015

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Walls of sandstone loom overhead, making the valley of Wadi Musa truly breath taking.

While the journey is not for the claustrophobic (think surrounding walls 200 metres high) the glimpse of the ‘Treasury’ through the breaking in the red-rocked curtains is breath taking. I have to touch the walls to remind myself that they are a real natural phenomenon and not that I am an in a contemporary art exhibition.

Along the valley other tourists walk covered in unrubbed in sunblock and bearing obnoxiously large DSLR cameras.

The westerners strike a clear contrast from the locals. Local men drag donkeys and horses adorned with traditional Beudoine fabrics around, while children climb in and out through the crevices and cracks in the rock- enjoying their natural play ground. Women can be seen selling produce from make shift huts, and while the jewelry was beautiful, it symbolizes their reliance on the tourist industry. 

The hustle and bustle is surprisingly languid for a Middle Eastern country.

Hard to imagine from the handful of merchants present today, that this was a teeming center of 30,000 people at the time of Jesus.

The ‘Siq’ that tourists now aimlessly wander through, paved the way for tired traders. The magnificent treasury was clearly a sign of wealth, built in a vast and grand style.

The name derives from the belief that gold is hidden within- and the bullet holes in the façade show that a few people have tried to reenact Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. 

The ancient city of Petra acts as a window into a previous civilization. While it is only a short drive from the seaside resorts of (Israeli) Eilat and (Jordanian) Aqaba, it feels like another world. Eilat is a city of great things; massive plates of falafel, opportunities to go deep sea diving and massive malls.

However, Eilat is not known for its natural beauty but more as being a slightly naff tourist haven. For most westerners a day trip to Jordan fits in nicely with a few days in sunny Eilat or Aqaba- merge the two for the practicality and the interesting social contrast. 

Many children ran around barefoot- unaffected by the cooing (and slightly concerned/ patronising looks) from the surrounding tourists.

Several ask for money but their tones are more cheeky and trying to utilize the situation than threatening. A few look like they could do with a tissue to mop up their constantly dripping noses but all have grins across their faces.

Given the state of their personal hygiene it is surprising to see the boys donning Manchester United football shirts. Apparently, Messi has a big following in the Middle East.


Unfortunately my trip was only a day long. On the drive through Jordan, I caught a glimpse of the hidden treasures it has to offer.

The ancient monuments have proved more stable and durable than the surrounding countries regimes. And in a climate of change and turmoil, best to book your trip now.

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