Today we were up early so we could shove some breakfast into our bellies and make the move into the site. After our brief taste yesterday, Shack and I were very anxious to get going. We were determined to make it all the way through and up the 800 steps to The Monestary and we were supposed to check out at 1pm.
Breakfast at The Movenpick was good with lots of selection and nice "power shots" of fresh squeezed, unsweetened lemon juice with mint. As much as I hate eating in the morning, I knew I would need the fuel for what lay ahead so I choked the better part of an omlete and some falafel and cheese down.
We set out with coworkers of Shack's who joined us on the trip at around 8:45am and the Siq was already crowded with tourists. We power walked ahead of them until we got to the rag tag group of "roman soldiers" and the less said about them, the better, although, will say that The Kid was thrilled to see that they appeared to be wearing the same dollarama helmets that he has at home. A place this magnificent doesn't need to cheese the joint up in this manner. Luckily, the large gaggle of tourists stopped to take photos and so we left them in the dust and spent the rest of the day a bit ahead of the crowd.
Again, words can't touch how CRAZYPANTS this place is. If this place wasn't already on the old bucket list, pencil it in already.
Everything was spectacular and we could have easily spent a few more days discovering the place - two days should definitely be the minimum plan.
Okay, so here is how the day ended. We made it up the 200 metres (over 1000 metres above sea level) and 800000 step climb to The Monestary in about an hour and a bit ( damn you asthmatic lungs). It is not an easy climb and there were a couple times that I wanted to turn back but we just kept stopping a few times to rest and recover a bit before pressing on. Just when you think you are never going to get to the end of the road you descend a short flight of steps and turn to your right and you see this:
At 47 metres high, it is the largest of the structures, even though The Treasury is the most famous. The scale is almost unbelievable and I kept thinking that somebody was punking us because this can't actually be a building from the 1st century BC. Although there is much more erosion on the surface so it's not as detailed or as ornate as The Treasury, it is magnificent. How did they keep things so straight back then? How did they manage to carve perfect circles without auto cad? How the hell did they even get up that high to build it?
We had some pomegranate juice and lounged around on the benches facing the building and just looked at it for quite some time. The Kid had a run in with some angry dogs that were chained to the port a potties up there so you might want to stop at one juice, by the way. It was quite cold and windy up there and we had to be back at the hotel in an hour so we left, reluctantly, and started to desend the stairs, which only took about 25 minutes.
When we reached the bottom, we were trying to decide the best way back when some Bedoiun donkey guys tried to sell us a ride back to the treasury for 30 JD or back to the gate for $50 but Shack was not having it. Much heated haggling ensued but Shack was not to be swayed. I think to punish us, they told us to go the back way because it was a shortcut. The last shortcut we took on the advice of a Bedouin lady cost us 55 JD and was more of a long cut that happened to pass by that woman's little stall- how convenient.
The Kid tried to tell us that this was the wrong way but we always follow Shack so we set off to take the "shortcut", with The Kid grumbling the whole time.
The three donkey dudes were trailing us, riding by us and on ahead, falling back and then galloping away again while we walked out of the site and on to a winding, desolate road that appeared to go nowhere we would ever want to go. For once, I was with The Kid but I said nothing and on and on we walked.
Donkey dudes kept trying to entice us with their beasts of burden but we continued to refuse and trudged on. The road is clearly going to continue up, up, up now and I am getting wheezy when the donkey guys gallop up for the tenth time.
" hire a donkey for the mama" they say, shaming Shack. This time, we settle on 5JD per person and they will put us on their donkeys and take us up to the top of the hill where we can get a cab.
I have never been so happy to get up on a donkey in my life. Actually I have never ridden a donkey or even been this close to one, but no matter. I am now a donkey fan. Okay, Shack was actually riding a mule since he requires the big boy size but we both had nice little donkeys. At the top of the road they dropped us off and a guard called us a cab who then charges us 10JD to drive us to the hotel which is a good 5k away - in the end we paid the same amount to get donkey swindled as we would have if we had just taken the damned donkeys to The Treasury in the first place but it was certainly more of an adventure this way.
Petra was everything we had hoped for and more and this experimce alone was worth the trip to Jordan.