November 30, 1961 – Jordan

Ambassador Hotel, Jerusalem, Jordan – Clear, cold

     Edith and I were up at 5 am so we could be in the lobby with the rest of our group at 6 am.  I was glad I had gotten my overnight bag ready the night before.

     Today I traveled in a Chrysler for six hours with Edith, Ethyl, another couple and the driver to Petra.  The road was good and it was easy to travel on.  I was next to a window and enjoyed looking at the scenery.  Although it was interesting I even managed to take a little nap because it was so relaxing. 

     Once we arrived at Petra I was fascinated.  The city had been carved out of the red rock using rock cut architecture by a long dead people called the Nabataeans who had lived in splendor for hundreds of years.  The people had obtained their riches by exacting tribute from caravans who passed through the valley on their way to Damascus.  When the Romans had moved in, we were told that Herod spent his summers there so it really must have been a pleasant place to stay at that time of the year.

      Once we parked we went on horses through the main entrance to the ancient city of Petra called the Sig.  The entry way turned out to be a dim, narrow gorge (in some points no more than 9 feet wide) that was a natural geological fault produced by water erosion and upheaval.  Just as the caravans used the Sig to enter the Rose Red City carved out of the cliffs so we entered the valley.  Our trip to get into the gorge took an hour and being on horseback was exhausting.  The valley and city in the cliffs was not only unusual but wonderful to see.  I really felt sorry for Cecil who fell off his horse, clipped his shoulder and got very banged up. 

Entrance to Petra

      The carvings and buildings were all in Red Sandstone and had the appearance of water silk.  The only building materials that had been brought in were granite for steps to the monastery.  Everything else had been made from what was right there.   I was amazed because the city had an old water aqua duct that was still in good repair even though it was over 5000 years old. 

Valley of Petra and Buildings

Tombs in the Valley of Petra

Buildings in Petra

      Once we finally arrived in the valley and had a chance to walk around most of our group decided to hike up the mountain to see a monastery there.  Edith stayed behind due to the continued problems she had been having with her feet.  Our hike was up the 700 ft mountain and was a two mile walk.  I wouldn’t have made it if not for the help of Ali, an old toothless man, who did the walk with us.  Once we made it to the top he kissed me on my forehead and then wiped his own forehead.  He had such a big smile on his face and seemed quite tickled to have gotten me up to the top.  At the top we were able to see Aaron’s tomb and I really enjoyed the view from there.

Path to Monestary

Monastery on Top of Mountain

Another View of Monastery on Top of Mountain

Hurdsman Ali and Grandma

      We stayed in the valley over night at Nassal Camp which turned out to be very comfortable even though it was a little primitive.  It turned out to be a fun change of pace.  I found we had good food for dinner but my favorite part of the evening was having a chance to experience the night sky.  Away from the city lights the sky was so clear and there seemed to be a million stars twinkling. 

     When I finally went to bed I was so tired from the traveling, horseback riding and hiking that I had no trouble falling asleep.

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