Floating in Petra

Trip Start Feb 28, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2011

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Flag of Jordan  ,
Thursday, April 21, 2011

I met up with my friend Charlie, who I only met once before in Miami. We decided to meet in Amman this week. He's on his way east to India and I am on my way west to everywhere. Trying to coordinate when and where to meet up was not easy since I don't know where I am going. The timing was pretty close, he got in the night before I did and arranged a driver to pick me up and take me to the hotel. This was the second time in the last three countries someone was waiting for me with a sign with my name on it and I had nothing to do with arranging it. Jordan is an amazing city I have never been anywhere like it. Everything is sandstone in color and the buildings are old and small. The city itself spreads out for miles up hills and down into valleys. The homes and stores are built on every inch of Amman. It was refreshing because there are no modern buildings and high rises.

The first day we went to the Dead Sea. I have read about how salty it is and how you can float in it, but I didn't really believe it. As we were getting into the water there was a guy floating while sitting Indian style almost sitting on top of the water. I though there is no way I could ever float like that; he must be a professional floater. Once we were into the water to our necks you just let your body go and whatever is in the water takes you to the top effortlessly. It feels like a magnet and you actually can’t do anything but float. It is one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. Something holds you up above the water and its one of those things that you can tell me the science of, but it didn’t matter because you had to feel it. It is that invisible force I keep coming across everywhere I go and it always seems to show up in different ways. Today it was in the water. Also while we were floating on the Jordan side, we could see Israel across the water.

From there we went to Mount Nebo, which is a memorial of Moses on top of a mountain overlooking Jordan. Mt. Nebo is believed to be the place where Moses was buried. You can look down and see the Jordan River Valley, the Dead Sea, Jericho, and Jerusalem. We also went to the Ancient city of Jerash, which use to be under Roman rule. It is like a mini Roman ruins city with amphitheaters, public squares, temples and plazas. We also visited Ajlun castle. At one point during the day we came across about fifteen camels just grazing in a field. The driver stopped and we got out and up close with the camels.

We spent a lot of time in the car during our time in Jordan. During our drives through the desert at different points I saw road signs to the Iraqi, Syrian and Saudi borders. We were truly in the middle of the Middle East. It was about a four-hour drive from Amman to Petra. About two hours into the drive, our driver, who is a character himself, pulled off the road and started driving fast towards a cliff. I was in the front seat as he stopped four feet from the edge.I thought we were going over it. He laughed and told us to get out. It was an amazing canyon cutting through Jordan and there was a shepherd with his flock along one of the banks of the valley. I don't know the name of it or even where we were but it was incredible. I spent a few minutes by myself as far away from the group as I could get. It was so inspiring just to watch him tend to his flock. I think it was that moment that I realized that I could never go back to my old job and never go back to living a normal life. Something inside me has changed for good, not just for the moment.

We got to Petra and I read in one of the brochures, a line from a poem by Dean Burgon's "match me such a marvel save in Eastern clime / A rose-red city half as old as time." It also goes on to say that the words can hardly do justice to the true magnificence that is Petra.

Its true, I cannot explain it, and its one of the wonders of the world for a reason.

The Nabataeans were an ancient Arab tribe that carved their city into huge red rocks and mountains. There is a long walk from the front of Petra and you travel through the As-Siq, which is a narrow red gorge. From there you come out to the focal point which is stunning Al-Khazneh (Treasury). It is forty-three meters high and carved into solid red rock. It was carved in the 1st century BC as a tomb for an important Nabataen King. You just have to stand in front of it and look up in amazement and wonder how people could carve something so perfect into solid stone. From there, Charlie and I started walking up a few stone steps and then a few more, and then about an hour later, sweaty, tired and realizing how out of shape I was, we ended up at the top of over looking Petra from the High Place of Sacrifice without even knowing it. Maybe the best views I have ever seen. Stunning views of miles of beautiful red canyons and mountains. We were so high up that we could barely see Petra. After I made my way back down I went to the Roman theatre carved into a mountain and the Urn Tomb.

On the way back we had a different driver who didn't speak English and looked a little bit like Saddam Hussein with a baseball hat and sunglasses on. Charlie was in the front and I was in the back seat. During the drive home he would turn off his high beams when we would pass another car as a courtesy to the other car. When he would turn his high beams off it was almost like he turned the lights off it was completely dark and I thought we were going to get hit. One time I said something about it but he didn't understand. So then next time he left his high beams on and flashed the other car with his high beams as it passed. Normally that wouldn't be so funny but for some reason we all started laughing each time. It was real laughing out loud, not the LOL type when you text someone. I'm in the back seat, its a full moon, we were crossing the desert in the Middle East and we found a language that everyone speaks…laughter.  And then I realized just how easy everything should always be.

"His command, when He intends anything, is only to say to it, "Be," and it is." Qur'an 36.82
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