Sunday, January 6, 2013

Petra Part 3

Our kids on donkeys, heading off to the Treasury.
Aside from rocks and history (did you know that Petra means rock?) there are people still making a living in the ancient city. The tourism industry is doing well even in the low season. Saddled horses or horse&carriage bring guests from the entry to the Treasury.  From the Treasury camels and donkeys make their way to the old city.  From the old city, donkeys can be hired to trek up to the Monastery.  And along the way are stands selling the usual trinkets, souvenirs, drinks, and sometimes even some treasures.  Ian purchased what were claimed to be Nabatean coins from a Bedouin with a baggy of curious looking monies.  The initial asking price was 300JD ($422) for a single coin.  He worked his way down to 20JD ($28) for 3 small coins. It helps to live in Amman and speak Arabic, though he still might have overpaid some.

We'd never make it out of the Siq if we had to carry all this.
Where I know we overpaid was at a shop built into a stunning rock wall and filled with jewelry of every value, beautifully crafted pieces I could never get away with wearing.  The table out front held carvings, lamps that reminded of Aladdin's genie, pots, rustic necklaces.  Along with the carpeted floor and the little tables with modest settees, the shop offered drinks to the thirsty passerby.  Apparently my girls were simply parched.  A 10JD bill later they each had a small glass of freshly squeezed warm lemon with mint.  Don't be like me and request a mint lemonade anywhere.  You will be unceremoniously corrected.

Further down the stretch were more vendors, one of whom was lucky enough to part Ian with a goodly amount of JD for a Bedouin knife.  It's a lovely piece, marked with the family name that created it, and it will join our small dagger collection.

The ancient boom box.  It rocks.
The city of Petra looks remarkably like any other Roman ruin.  The broken road, the toppled pillars, the frames of abandoned homes,shops, and temples. In the little museum at the end of the road, before the climb to the Monastery, lies a very brief history of the area and the realization that this area was inhabited for thousands of years.  Tools and jewelry and pottery are discovered regularly from all eras.  The ancient city was once a crossroads for trade and therefore had a regular influx of supplies and culture from all around the region as well varied points of the Roman Empire.  Then the trade route shifted to the north along the Silk Road and the west to take advantage of sea routes, the Petra valley rift was hit by yet more earthquakes, and the ancient city was largely abandoned.

It's no wonder it was a well kept secret from then until the 1800s.  The area is vast while Petra is nestled deep in the valley and protected on all sides by massive cliffs.

Hopefully the earthquakes will stay quiet and the visitors conscientious so it remains another 1000 years.

Tossing rocks off this ledge led to Physics theories.

Duck face. be continued...

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