This is not a sci-fi movie set but a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Nestled deep in the Jordanian desert is the ancient city of Petra.
Where did they go? How did they chisel their homes, temples, alters
and everlasting tombs out of this dusty, pink, sheer-faced rock
thousands of years ago?
Well hidden and encased in striated, three-story-high cliffs,
Petra was not discovered until the 19th century by a real-life
Indiana Jones. He was a resourceful explorer (disguised as an Arab)
that traversed a gorge all the way through a thin chasm to reveal
this forgotten eighth Wonder of the World.
Since I am a contemporary swashbuckler and was a little sluggish
in the hot July sun, I lazily rode into Petra on horseback. As I
passed through winding stone overhangs, I caught my first glimpse
of the Treasury Building; my jaw dropped. A massive facade 150 feet
high and 100 feet wide had been completely hand-carved out of the
sheer cliff, and this was just the beginning. Clients can still see
500 awe-inspiring structures.
Inside the citadel, I met some archaeologists digging out a
pre-Roman-style theatre. Of course, I asked if they had found any
bodies. Isn’t that what any action-adventure movie fan would ask?
They said no, only seven odd skeletons in total had ever been
recovered in this vast abandoned valley. I sifted though the red
clay dirt under their field tent and listened intently as they
shared knowledge and recent finds: jars, tools and the hipbones
missing from the female skeletons (probably used for some kind of
magic, they hypothesized). I found a few shards of intricately
carved pottery and handed them over to be added to a huge bucket
already overfull with remnants of an unknown era.
I wandered through Petra, aimlessly climbing cliffs and soaking
up the blazing Jordan sun. In my heat-induced haze, I could almost
visualize Petra full of bustle thousands of years ago; hear the
nomadic traders hawking their wares; witness Nabataean engineers
writing plans on papyrus; observe with trepidation workmen scaling
cliffs with chisels in their mouths; and smell the smoke rising
from the temples.
Jordan is a small and easily traveled country. After two days in
Petra, I journeyed to Wadi Rum, set in southern Jordan on the way
to the Red Sea and not too far from Petra.
Wadi Rum is a hiker’s delight for discovering an untouched oasis
and marvelous canyons with 4,000-year-old cave paintings. Here,
tour operators often rent four-by-four vehicles (with driver/guide)
or camels and go deep into the desert to camp with Bedouins under
the stars and eat a traditional campfire meal accompanied by Arabic
Tours are available that offer cuisine, handicraft classes,
hot-air balloon rides and ecotours to get off the beaten path.
Whatever your clients choose, they will find unparalleled Jordanian
hospitality and graciousness on the quest for adventure, as I
Jordan Tourism Board
Petra Moon Tourism Services
Commissions and special net rates are available. The company
offers custom tours, ecotours and cuisine courses.