Happy end-of-January, loyal readers! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to blog to Petra. Kuwait has been really, really busy here. Sean and I just got back from a three-day weekend in Oman, where we attended a conference. I can’t wait to show you all the pictures from our hiking and exploring the (in my opinion) most beautiful country in the Middle East! I hope to get the pictures of Oman up this weekend, after I finish our Jordan trip.
Kuwait has been really cold here. Really cold. Sometimes getting into the low 40’s at night, and high 50’s during the day. When my dad and sister were visiting, it rained at least three times. That is as winter-y as it gets here in Kuwait, and I can’t WAIT to be rid of it! This Thursday school has been called off, for the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday. Looks like we’ll have another three-day weekend to catch up on things… 🙂 I hope to do some baking, blogging, and book browsing!
Moving on, Petra was the highlight of our trip, hands down. There is something magical about Petra, a city thousands of years old preserved in rock. It almost feels as if it is contrived, that it is TOO real to be real. You can almost picture the smoke coming out of chimneys, hundreds of people applauding in the amphitheater, and blood flowing at the high temple of sacrifice. (That last part is true.) We spent three days in Petra, and that wasn’t enough.
It is a mile and a half way to the actual ancient city of Petra from the parking lot. Along the way there are these “Djinn” blocks. They were first created by the Naboteans, and then an ancient group of Arabs believed that these rocks, when they found them after the Neboteans were long gone, were housing the “Djinn” spirits, so they worshipped them. (Did you know that djinn = our word “genie”?)
As the path wound it’s way lower in elevation (we are following a dry riverbed after all), all of a sudden the walls of the “Siq” shoot up. The Siq is the slot canyon that guards the ancient city of Petra. Apparently, these guys guard the ancient city now, too.
I am standing next to the ancient rain gutter. This is where the water flowed during heavy rains so that the street didn’t get flooded. This water way wound it’s path through the Siq for almost a mile, carved into the rock. What finesse they had to craft such a useful invention from their resources! Notice on my right the horse carriage; I felt so bad for these overworked horses. They would ride back and forth up to fifty times a day, carrying tired tourists the two miles back to the parking lot.
Sean is standing on a Djinn block in the Siq.
Emily could not take her eyes off all the pretty baubles to be had! This guy really irritated me; he followed Emily for a while when it appeared that she wasn’t interested. Don’t worry, she did end up getting a few pretty pieces of jewelry before our time in Petra was over 🙂
Dad and Emily at the famous entrance to Petra. Imagine trying to lay siege to this place—it’d be near impossible!
This is the Treasury, the most famous landmark in Petra. It was built by an ancient ruler of the Nabotean people, and was most likely a tomb. I have also read that the Siq was used as a processional route for the ritual entrance to Petra, which was considered a holy city, and that the king has the Treasury built as the finale to the processional route through the Siq.
Eating lunch next to the Treasury.
Once arriving in Petra and taking out time marveling at the Treasury, we decided to tackle a big hike towards the end of the day. We headed up to the High Place of Sacrifice. This is the view looking down onto the main road through the center of Petra, as we began the hike. You can see the amphitheater slightly left of center.
Ahh, the most vexing side of Petra: The Bedoul. The Bedoul are a group of people who had inhabited the Petra area over the last 150 years. Some would say they have indigenous rights to the area. When Petra was deemed a national park, it was “recommended that they relocate elsewhere.” But, this was, as I said, only a recommendation, so many Bedoul still eek out lives in Petra, selling trinkets and inviting guests in for tea. This was a Bedoul “shop” on the way up to the High Place of Sacrifice.
Here we are at the High Place of Sacrifice. You can see homes off in the background, and if you look in the lower left-hand corner, you can see columns in valley of Petra! Yes, that is how much elevation we gained in this gut-busting hike; we climbed over 400 steps! I was so proud of my parents (and Sean). The view was wonderful, and this area was where the Naboteans would hold sacrifices. There was still ruins from the sacrificial table, benches, and sitting area.
We took a different route back from the High Place of Sacrifice. Can you see the Roman influence? The carved soldiers in the tomb’s face?
My parents posing for a picture at the temple near the hanging gardens. Apparently there was a lot more flowing water here in ancient times, and this temple was near a lush gardens and small pool. I wonder if they ever posed for a drawing or two in the same place?
As the sun set, we found out why Petra is called the “Rose City”. Sean nabbed this picture as my family and I were walking down through the canyon. You can see us at the very bottom!
That night, we relaxed in the town of Wadi Musa for a delicious Arabic meal. How was it different than the food it Kuwait? Well, it was pretty similar. (And equally delicious!) We wanted to find a place where Emily could get a hamburger, and this place had one on their menu. To her chagrin, as we had already ordered drinks, she asks for the burger, and the man replies, “I’m sorry madam, we are out of the burger.” She settled on a chicken kebab. What a trooper!
At the start of our second day in Petra, my dad captured this picture which I like to think is how this place looked one hundred years ago. You couldn’t walk fifty feet anywhere in Petra without hearing the bray of a donkey and the clopping of hoofs, or without seeing these little guys trotting around toting men on their backs.
Here, where my mom sits, was an interesting place. It used to be a church AND a theater, which is very unique to have them both in the same place. She is sitting in the theater area in this photo.
Sean couldn’t get enough of the columns!
Sean took this picture, and I’m pretty sure it is from the Roman era. You can see the cliche Roman hair, toga, and staff. How amazing that this was so well-preserved!
Ahhh, my second favorite place in Petra, the Monastery. I can’t remember why it was called the Monastery, because it certainly wasn’t housing monks, but I know it was holy and sacred to the Naboteans. If I remember correctly, it was also a tomb at one point. This was yet another day hike that involved climbing massive amounts of stairs; when we reached the top we were happy to relax with a cup of tea and soak in the view!
Kim & Sean: Always A Badger!
The Monastery was like the Treasury, but it was farther away from the canyon-style of the main area in Petra. It was nestled on the side of a mountain that made it harder to reach and all the more beautiful. We stayed here for an hour or two, just basking in the glory of a city that once was, and forever will be.
I hope to post the second half of our Petra photos within the next few days. I look forward to sharing them with you!
What awaits you in ‘Part 2’, you ask? Well, the Kriege women ride camels, we ring in the new year, and find ourselves sipping margaritas in an ancient tomb… Stay tuned!