Rose Red City of Petra (Day 2)
early start saw us shivering through the Siq
at 7am. It was promising to be a better day than yesterday
but the mist and clouds of the cold night were still
low over the mountains and the sun had not yet broken
Our first encounter of the day was with a delightful
child named Hanan who tried very hard to sell
us a rock from her tray. We only escaped by giving her
a koala keyring. Thank goodness we brought so many of
them! They are just as popular here as in Japan.
walked straight along the Cardo Maximus, retracing
our steps of yesterday, heading for the Monastery
- Al Deir.
At the end of the Cardo can be seen Qasr al
Bint, the Castle of Pharaoh's Daughter, one
of the few freestanding buildings remaining in Petra.
This temple is dedicated to the Goddess Al'Uzza,
one of the major Nabataean goddesses.
found some interesting facts on Al'Uzza when I did some
on the net on my return home - see below.
Al-'Uzza, Allat and Manat were the three daughters
worshipped before the rise of Islam.
is also supposed to have come from Sinai and to
have been the goddess of the planet Venus.
Allat, the ancient moon goddess of North
Arabia, was introduced from Syria. She corresponds
to the ancient moon deity of South Arabia, Almaqah,
or Sin as he was called. Mount Sinai (the
feminine form of Sin) was one of the centres of
worship of this northern moon goddess.
As the moon and the evening star are associated
in the heavens, so too were Allat and Al-Uzza
associated together in religious belief. Does
this give rise to the crescent and star conjoined
on the flags of Arab countries today?
As for Manat, her original home seems to
have been in Hejaz and she was the Goddess of
Fortune or Fate.
three pagan deities are the inspiration for the
title of the infamous Salman Rushdie book
The Satanic Verses referring to the
deleted passages from the 53rd Sura of the Koran.
climb to the Monastery involves some 800 steps
cut into the living rock and is even higher than that
of the Place of High Sacrifice.
A great many tourists climb onto the backs of the sad,
uncomplaining little donkeys (see left). These little
creatures were being raced down the steps to catch the
next unfit tourist wanting a lift to the top. Lazy creatures!
was a very steep and arduous climb, however and we paused
halfway up to chat to a group of traders (right) who were
brewing an early cup of tea whilst getting their merchandise
ready for the day.
Deir is the largest of Petra's monuments, at 45m wide
and 50m high. It's so impressive when you turn the corner
from the exhausting climb and see it spread before you.
It was built in 1AD as a temple but from 4AD it was used
as a Christian Byzantine monastery - thereby the name
beyond Al Deir, I sat on a rock overlooking the
valley with views to Jebel Haroun beyond. Sometimes
you just have to take time to sit and meditate!
(see above right)
Hearing the Islamic midday call to prayer, I leant further
over the edge and spotted this lone worshipper further
down, facing Mecca (left).
Which reminded us both that it was also time to eat. Out
came the picnic boxes and we enjoyed another picnic lunch
of - you guessed it - boiled eggs, cheese,pitta bread
Descending from the Monastery, we walked to the
Byzantine Church in the valley only discovered
by an American in 1993. Here also were discovered a cache
of papyrus rolls in one of the rooms of the church. Written
in Greek, these 6th century documents deal with real estate,
contracts, marriages, inheritances, etc. and gave a real
insight into the day to day lives of these people.
tombs pictured on the left are some of the oldest tombs,
as is shown by the Assyrian architecture and decoration.
They are not as large as the so-called Royal Tombs,
which were our next stop. These are a series of large
tombs lined along a cliff facing into the valley.
The Urn Tomb, which competes in size with the Treasury
and Al Deir, is shown on the right. A large courtyard
in front of it adds to its grandeur.
Palace Tomb (below left) appears to be an imitation
of a Roman Palace. Thus, it must have been carved at a
later date than the other tombs.
Silk Tomb (photo right) has been badly damaged
by the elements and much of the facade has eroded but
the inside of the shows how it got its name.
The colours on the walls resemble a silken fabric, with
glowing colours washing into each other. Purples, reds,
oranges and pinks shift slowly across the walls and ceiling.
pondered the beliefs of the people who were driven to
build such magnificent tombs. They must have had a strong
belief in the afterlife. Their own day to day dwelling
places have long since vanished yet these temples and
tombs remain to tantalise us.
the valley from the Royal Tombs, the Amphitheatre
can be seen. Built originally by the Nabataeans, it was
enlarged by the Romans to seat 7,000. Again, this is all
carved out of the rock, seat by seat.
And somehow, another day had passed. It was 4.30pm and
almost dark. We walked up the Siq in darkness,
thankful that Guy had brought his headlight. Last to leave,
we were chastised by the guards at the gate, who were
waiting to lock up. We apologised and went for a much-needed
returning to our hotel, we needed to get some money
at an ATM so we caught a taxi driven by a very friendly
guy called Fawaz. He invited us to his house
for tea which we accepted but first we explained our
need of cash. Fawaz drove us to an ATM and promised
to return in an hour to collect us and take us to his
BLUES (One to Watch Out For!!)
tried to get some money out of the ATM - to no
avail. After all our cards had been rejected with
the message "Insufficient Funds Available"
we were starting to panic. Had some internet shyster
ripped off our hard-earned savings? We searched
for another ATM but this too had the same message
- "Insufficient Funds Available".
It was Saturday night and we were due to leave
for Wadi Rum the next morning at 6am - where there
were no ATMs.
Retiring to an internet cafe to check our emails
and our internet banking, we found the solution
to our problems. Our bank was offline. Of course!
Back in Australia, it would be early Sunday morning
when most internet banking accounts are closed
for a few hours for routine maintenance.
a relief - but no solution to our problem. We decided
to cash in a little of our US dollar stash at the internet
cafe. Whilst we were doing this, who should we run into
but Ivor and Ana, our Croatian friends from Amman
and Madaba, now newly arrived in Petra. We laughed
and promised to look out for them in Wadi Rum
arrived to collect us and took us to his house for
tea and to meet his three boisterous children and
his sister and brother-in-law. It seems his wife
was away visiting her family in a nearby town.
We were given tea and home-made cookies by the sister
and had a chat with Fawaz and his brother-in-law.
Poor sister had to tend to the children and stay
in the kitchen.
Fawaz was a very interesting man who had been in
the Jordanian Army for many years. In his early
40s he was now earning a living as a taxi driver
and tour operator. He was disappointed to find we
were leaving Petra the following day but I promised
to give him a plug on the internet - so here goes:
is ex Jordanian Army,
speaks excellent English and has his own taxi.
He is available to take tourists around Wadi Musa
and surrounding areas
at very good rates.
Ahmmad El Hasanat
at our hotel, we had dinner and organised a minibus
(JD3 each) to take us to Wadi Rum the
following day, where we would be met by a Bedouin named
Madallah. He will take us on a tour which includes
sleeping in a Bedoun tent in the desert (and food) for
JD22 each. He will also arrange for us to catch
the bus to Aqaba from the Wadi Rum village
the following day.