After a relaxing day on the beach, we discovered a wonderful restaurant that was just around the corner from our hotel. The name was Rakwet Kanaan and I would highly recommend. Although it is not the most “off the beaten track” restaurant, it’s location, the friendly staff and of course the delicious food really made it the top for us.
Because we didn’t know what everything was of course we over ordered. So with over stuffed bellies we decided to have an early and save energies for our next day at Petra.
We met out taxi driver down at hotel reception at some ungodly hour and prepared for our two hour journey up to Petra. The trip was broken up by some stops where our lovely driver parked to show us some beautiful views, or local sights with a bit of a history lesson.
Upon arrival at Petra we paid our entry tickets (which were NOT cheap – but well worth it). Remember to bring passports with you, because they had randomly asked us for ID. We were not warned about this, but having had similar experiences in the past in other parts of the world we were prepared.
The entry to Petra consisted of a walk to the Siiq (which is the long and narrow gorge of about 1.2 km that leads to one of Petra’s main attraction – the Treasury). One the way to the Siiq we were stopped several times by the locals to offer us rides on the donkeys or horses. But being the strong, independent and stubborn women we are – we kindly refused. Many of the local Bedouin children would run through the Siiq trying to sell us the home made jewellery and other nick nacks. We came across a local man who kept us company through the Siiq. He played his harmonica with the sound travelling all through the Siiq making the sight even more majestic. We were (me even more so) on total watch regarding the local. This poor wee local chap was lovely – but I just kept on thinking “edgy” = must keep one eye open. He would entertain us with random facts and sayings (at the end of the day Annie and I came to a conclusion that all Bedouin locals were given the same phrase book to learn English from) such as “No wife No life”. That was a very lovely way to refer to his significant other.
About 5 metres away from the end of Siiq the wee guy asked us to close our eyes and led us to the exit to be blown away by the sight in front of us (I kept my camera rolling in case he was robbing us! You can never be too careful!).
But he was so right – the sight was just breath-taking. As soon as I opened my eyes and saw the beautifully carved temple in front of me I started humming the Indiana Jones theme song. I really felt like a total adventurer! To our surprise there were not that many people there ( a perk of travelling on off season). So living up to our tourist name we went all out with taking photos and videos. But to this day I think that no picture will do it justice.
After we were satisfied that we had enough pictures from every angle we proceeded to walk deeper into Petra. Arriving at the next rest stop we met another tourist woman who advised that to get to the next main attraction – the Temple – there were two ways. 1. Either to go inbetween the mountains. 2. Or climb up and walk over them. Which chose to head upwards!
The view from the top was stunning. We could see the whole expanse of Petra from above. The climb took quite a bit of energy and our poor wee legs were hurting a bit so we jumped at a chance to take a rest in the tent of a local Bedouin woman. She was selling hand made jewellery and offered us some tea. Now I must warn you – the tea has got like a kilo of sugar in it – it is almost a syrup – but boy did it taste good. Whilst we were waiting for our tea we were entertained by the woman’s young daughter! She was so cute – and just loved our IPhones. She loved taking pictures of herself and of course us. Bless!
A pair of local Bedouin boys stopped by for a break in the woman’s tent – Ahmed and Musa. They were both about 17 and were eager to learn / practice their English. The kindly offered to lead us through the mountains to make sure that we got to the Temple safely. They even offered to put us on their donkeys so that we didn’t have to walk, but there was no chance in hell I was going on! The hills were steep and I could see how the animal would slide, trying to get a good footing. I trusted my legs – and they would carry me to destination just fine.
The boys led us through the mountains, on the way pointing out different points of interest. They knew this road as the back of their hand and seemed absolutely harmless, so we felt quite at ease. They would point at some random rock and ask what it looked like. Well it looked like nothing to me, but then they would say it was a lion that is missing its body – and guess what I could see it!!!
When we neared the Museum of Petra which was at the bottom of the mountain that would lead us to the Temple, Musa and Ahmed invited us to their cave for a cup of tea. Yes I just did say CAVE!!!! They live in caves. I cannot stress enough that they live in an actual cave. I am still shocked and can’t get used to the idea of people living like this, but it is the way that the local Bedouin people live. Musa and Ahmed had their caves next to each other. It was simply decorated with the rugs on the floor with some cushions on the side to be used as chairs. There was a little cooker which used gas (basically a Bunsen burner) and some photos on the wall. That’s it! But you know what – these boys could not be happier.
They genuinely were happy and just gave off a content vibe. Yes they didn’t have much, but they had their health, their family (who stayed in the village) and they had enough to survive. It was a hard slap in the face – the slap of reality. Indeed, we really do not need much. Our excuses that we are not happy because we don’t have one thing or another are just pure bullshit! All we need is an attitude change – to view the world for what it is and not for what it can give us. Anyway, I’m off on a tangent here…
After a short break in the cave we headed towards the Petra museum. The boys were not going to go in, but just waited outside. They warned us that upon exit we were likely to be accosted by other locals seeking to sell their stuffs or get us to use one of their donkeys or camels. In that case we were just to tell them that we had already guides and we did not need anyone else. Indeed this helped us out a lot. There were a few older guys insisting to get us on their donkeys, what they did not know is that when I am pushed I become as stubborn as a donkey. They could not win with me. So we politely sent them off. They of course were telling us that the gently ladies that we are will find it difficult to climb the 800 stairs to the Temple. It was probably going to take us 2 hours to get there…..
19 minutes later we were at the top! We seriously sprinted up, even the boy on their donkeys could barely keep up with us. They did not know that Annie is a marathon runner and I am in training. So BOOYAA!!!
We photographed the Temple from all different angles and even go to climb inside (the boys pushed us in!) Then we climbed even further up and waited for the sunset.
We have read many reviews of Petra and everyone raved how beautiful the sunset is at Petra – they were not wrong. The temperatures dropped so we finally put on all the layers that we brought with us. All wrapped up we watched as the sun touched the horizon and dipped beyond the mountains near Israel! It was fascinating!
We were aware that we had limited time to get out of Petra in light. Although the sun set there was still some light, so we quickly started to make it down the 800 stairs. The boys kindly kept escorting us and we felt a lot safer with them. Another boy joined us – he was a bit older, maybe in his early 20’s (lets call him Bob). Oh boy could he talk. I swear to you we said maybe two words in the whole time down the stairs. Annie was slipping like mad and he was essentially holding her by the hood like a marionette. Once on flat ground we walked briskly towards the exit. A few times random guys on donkeys joined us trying to talk to me and Annie and thankfully both Musa and Ahmed were really protective. At one point Ahmed even called me closer and asked me to stand behind him. I could feel that he was uneasy. Some words were exchanged, but we could not understand what was said. Even Bob started to defend us by telling these strangers to stop disrespecting his guests. It is very shameful for them to be called out like that, especially in English – so they quickly made haste and disappeared.
The boys were still on their donkeys and we were marching along side them. The silence fell upon the group and I could feel a bit of unease remaining after the last encounter with the other men. So for a laugh I challenged Musa to a challenge. Who was faster: me on my feet or him on his donkey who was called Shakira (yes yes pretty much every donkey on Petra was either called Shakira or Michael). Running down the road I felt like I was winning….until my foot slipped and I landed on it funny. I heard a sickening crack and could feel the vomit rising in my chest. It was the most disgusting noise ever. I knew immediately what had happened. I screamed for Annie who sprinted towards me. At this point the light was fading but she could still see that I was losing my colour. I knew I didn’t break my foot – I could still move it without substantial pain. I just couldn’t put my weight on it. So there were only two explanations: 1. Sprain, 2. Fractured metatarsal.
The boys were so concerned. I could really feel how bad they felt about what had happened, despite me saying that it was not their fault. They suggested that we go to their village which was only half hour away, instead of making our way to the exit which was about one and half hours away. From there we could call our taxi guy to pick us up. We had no choice. And actually – I had no choice! If I were to make it out of Petra in one piece, I had to get on that donkey!
A full day on my feet without having to get on, and I fell on the last hurdle. Oh well Shakira was gentle with me. We made it to the village in no time, and headed straight for Ahmed’s family home. This home consisted of 4 cement walls and a roof. There was a small kitchen to the side. The whole room was covered by a big rug with the familiar cushions in the corner. I hopped inside thanking his mother profusely for her hospitality. I was made to lie down in the corner whilst Annie ran around the village with Musa trying to find a working mobile phone to call our taxi driver. Ahmeds’ mum was making the customary tea whilst his 8 younger siblings surrounded me in a semi-circle and just observed me. He introduced me and their fascination with me just grew. They seriously were watching me like a TV. It was a bit intimidating and flattering at the same time. His mum brought me a cup (I ended up having like 5) of the sweet tea and some pancakes with yoghurt. Looking around their humble abode I was hesitant to accept this generosity. The poor wee kids could use an extra meal, but Bob explained that it was part of the Bedouin tradition and I had to eat so as to not offend my hosts. A few minutes after Annie returned saying that the taxi driver was making his way to the village and would arrive in the centre square shortly. So once again we thanked our hostess and the kids and I hopped back to my trusted steed. Being led through the village on Shakira, the locals noted the foreign girls and the interest in us grew. I felt a bit like I was paraded around like foreign royalty! Little kids were running by our sides looking up at us. It was a completely surreal experience. When we arrived at the square we quickly located our driver. I think he had a mini heart attack when he saw us arrive with our entourage (which grew by every block). I hopped to the taxi and got in the back seat. Clinging on to the boys hands I tried to explain to them how thankful I was for the wonderful day that we had, for all of their help and hospitality. The emotion of the situation overtook me and I just burst into tears. Out of nowhere a group of older men arrived and asked me urgently in English whether these young boys hurt me. Oh god, I was so embarrassed and worried that they were getting the wrong picture. That was the exact opposite of why I was crying – they were the sweetest, kindest people ever! I was overwhelmed by the support of this foreign community. Through my sobbing I managed to clarify the matters and on that I closed the door. My emotional state has had enough. Annie ended up speaking further to the boys and thanking them for their assistance.
When Annie got in the car the taxi driver informed us that he was so worried about our long absence that he had called the tour operator and the tourist police. Apparently a search has commenced to look for the two lost girls in Petra. He put me on the phone with our tour rep who double checked that we were safe and sound and advised that he had already contacted my emergency contact. This is when I knew I was in the shit. My emergency contact was my significant other – and nothing hurt more than knowing that he would be freaking out. My phone was out of battery and Annies was not working from abroad. I felt completely helpless. I wanted to call him to let him know that I was ok and explain the whole situation but I knew I would have to wait for two hours until we got to the hotel. Shiiittt! This did not help my crying. Poor wee Annie took charge of the situation. She made the taxi driver stop at the nearest hotel to get some ice for my foot and then ran into the pharmacy across the road to pick up every drug possible which would help. Even the taxi driver, bless him, got out of the car to get me some food as he was concerned that I couldn’t take the meds on an empty stomach. With the car packed of meds, food and water we sped towards Aqaba. Annie trying to calm me whilst I howled about my unfortunate accident.
Arriving at the hotel we called room service to bring us buckets and buckets of ice – which they swiftly delivered. Keeping my foot elevated and in a semi frozen state was helping tremendously. All the drugs also assisted. The next half hour was spent on the phone to my other half trying to explain that there was nothing to worry about and that I was not kidnapped and being held hostage in a cave! Pheww
So our hiking adventure resulted in unforgettable memories of stunning places and kindest people and lets not forget the injury and a promise that I was going to have to spend the rest of the week on crutches!!! Well I definitely tried to make it the new “Must Have” accessory!
“To win is to trip and get back up”