Wow what an absolutely awesome place !!

Trip Start Apr 01, 2011
Trip End May 27, 2011

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Flag of Jordan  , Ma’an,
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We were up bright and early today, as we were heading off to Petra about 8 o'clock.  Everyone was ready for breakfast and then found out that breakfast didn't start until 8.  So we asked the guys if they could bring it forward a bit for us, and they did this which meant we were only about 10 mins late for the taxi drivers.  We had decided yesterday rather than hiring a car to take taxis to Petra, as you get a driver and then don't have to worry about where to go and how to get there, and also the road rules etc.  This made life a lot easier on Caleb, Cindy & Alvin who had done all the driving in Israel.  We sorted out the various taxis and off we went, the adults all went in one bigger van, as we needed to organise for the next section of our trip, and don't often get to travel together.  We had the customary stops at the friend or relies shop on the way, then we got to Petra about 10.45 - we decided we would spend the money and have a guide, this turned out to be a good move as he was very informative. Firstly all the girls rode horses up until the tunnel, yes even myself and Abi.  The horses travel on quite a stoney road.  We then had them squabbling over money (which is quite common) as we only had large notes and they had to split it.  We then walk through the large chasms - these are fantastic, and it was quite amazing how advanced the Nabeans actually were - they have a aqueduct system running through which even filters the water on its way down.  This area was approx 1km long - it was very spectacular and it is probably the second most photographed part of Petra.  We then saw the magnificient treasury building made famous by the Indiana Jones movie - it is truly a amazing feat.  It towers about 39 metres (about 13 stories high)  it is carved straight into the rock and has lots of different features. They seemed to try to include all the popular beliefs at the time, Roman, Greek, Egyptian and there own.  After this we travelled further on to the royal tombs - there are several of these which are also carved out of the rock face, they also have houses which were out of the rock - these were more plain than the other buildings.  There was also a very large amphitheartre, and a cardo (market place) this had a lot of roman influence.  All these are against a backdrop of large craggy mountains.  There are off course the usual people trying to get you to buy their wares, and also the camel, horse and donkey people offering rides for a price.  We decided to take the donkeys up to the monastery.  This is a steep climb and it was quite hairy to start with, and the donkeys all like to squabble over who is first etc, I had a young boy who kept kicking Abi's donkey up the backside to get it to move faster, luckily for Abi the donkey was not inclined to go any faster than was necessary.  Every so often the boy would get on the back of my donkey (which was actually a mule) as he got sick of walking.  The men had climbed up and were quite had it by the time we got to the monastery.  Everyone had enjoyed the donkey rides and the stories about the experiences were quite funny.  Some went up to the highest view which was probably about another 100-150 steps.  I stayed back with some of the girls.  I had twisted my ankle falling off a step, so was feeling pretty sore.  We started the trip back as time was running away and we were supposed to meet our drivers at 4 o'clock.  So we headed off down the mountain, my foot was really hurting as I couldn't put much pressure on it.  About half way down I ended up getting a donkey to take me as far as the bottom - Rhiannon got a free ride about half way down.  Going down was scarier than going up as you have to lean backwards, and I had to put a lot of pressure on my legs (so I'm not sure if it helped or made things worse).  At the bottom it is more walking, and the boys stopped and bought some sand pictures - these are really good, they use the coloured sands to make pictures in a bottle.  Cindy, Jenny, Abi & I then rode a camel for a short trip - this was an interesting ride.  Camels when they get up lurched you forwards and then backwards, as the saddle area was quite small Abi and I were a bit cramped but other than that it is quite a smooth ride.  We then had some photos taken in front of the treasury.  By this time we were running pretty late, so more walking back through the chasms.  Then another horse ride from the tunnel back to the top.  I ended up having Jenny up with me, as she was not going to get a ride and was crying her heart out, the man took pity on her and she got a free ride with me.  The taxi drivers did not seem overly perturbed that we were nearly an hour and a half late.  We had quite a chatty driver on the way back, and had changed around taxis - so the kids could all travel together.  They even stopped so we could get some food for tea - this was really cheap and we had what they call swarmaas - which were different from the Israeli ones in that they were like a wrap with meat and potato etc.  Some of the kids had chips.  We also went to a pharmacy where I bought a bandage along with things for colds, as both Abi & I have caught the cold that Caleb, Jenny & Rhiannon have had.  This has been especially painful today with going up the mountains the sinuses have been killing.  Then back to where we are staying - most of the kids went in for a swim even though it was about 8.30 by the time we got back, Abi went straight to bed, and the adults tried to work out our next step - getting to Egypt, we were hoping to fly but it is not going to work - so we will probably be going by ferry and bus.  My impressions of the Jordanian people is that overall they are very friendly and helpful, the taxi drivers, shop owners etc have been really easy to talk to and deal with - a bit of a contrast to the Israelis who didn't give you the time of day overall. If you are ever thinking of visiting Petra I would highly recommend it.  
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