We were thrilled to be able to spend time with Cody and Vanessa in Amman. We were excited to be back towards the Middle East and to add another country to our list. We were looking forward to exploring a new cuisine. And after seeing Venice and Berlin, we really had to finish off our Last Crusade set list with a visit to Petra.
We spent eighteen hours over two days hiking the dusty canyons, declining incessant four-legged taxi offers, climbing to the high places in the blazing sun and making our own way through the wilderness to sit and finally understand the phrase deafening silence. At night, we stayed at a Bedouin camp, stuffed ourselves with our only square meal of the day and drank sugary sage tea by the fire.
Our second morning was November 7. As we walked through the kitsch gauntlet at the main entrance, we heard an Arabic radio station say a name we recognized: Obama. We did an about-face and asked the vendor what the news was. He paused a moment to find the right English word. “Obama… fortune.” We hadn’t expected to hear the results until we returned to Amman. Just a few days earlier we were able to vote by email, thanks to Jordan being on a list of special countries where absentee voting doesn’t require you to obtain and mail back a paper ballot.
After spending the morning hiking the 900 steps up to the Monastery and back, we ran into a retired Taiwanese couple from Flint, Michigan that we had met the day before. We decided to hike together for most of the day, taking a back trail that would overlook the Treasury. I’m pretty sure by the end of it WE were the ones keeping up with THEM. We had many good conversations and wished we had exchanged contact info!
Sami, one of the many Bedouins who actually live in Petra, makes his home at the very end of the trail. He made us tea while we played with his kitten. He showed us a photo album and told stories of racing horses, hunting with his falcon, and about the off-limits trails that only the local people know. Sometimes he climbs straight down the ledge which gets him to the Treasury in five minutes (instead of the long way around which takes an hour).
It happened to be one of the few times all year that we remembered to bring our small binoculars with us and remembered to actually use them. Sami asked to borrow them and leaped to the edge of the drop-off. Of course he didn’t look at the Treasury; he sees it all day. Instead, he looked far off in the distance to try to spot his friend who tends goats at the top of another mountain.The binoculars were going to get way more use with this guy, and we’re always looking to lighten our packs, so we left them with Sami, along with our thanks for one of our favorite memories this year.