Petra: 30th September
Li il-laha illa Allah Mohammed rasul Allah – good god not again?! I swear it was so loud this morning I thought that the temple was at the bottom of my bed (perhaps the use of God was not a good choice of word!) Another 5am wake up call – thankfully I managed to turn over and go back to sleep – it just shows just how shattered I actually was. I woke to the alarm clock that Janet had set for half 8 and boy I did not want to get up!
Janet hopped into the shower first and while she was in there Jan knocked on our door to confirm a time for breakfast – I stupidly hadn’t invited Janet but thankfully she had enough gusto to invite herself. After a quick shower and change and a lay out of things on my bed that I would need for the day – off we went.
Now I’m not really one for breakfast but I think we needed some form of luxury. The interior of the hotel was beautiful. It was just how I imagined the interior of a Sheikh’s palace in the middle of an Arabian desert. A room which was the full height of the building was the room that seriously wowed me – we must have gone up the side of it in the lift to the roof terrace last night. There were wooden balconies all the way up which must of had some of the rooms coming off them I guess. The wood that was used was very dark – mahogany like I suppose – I am not entirely sure. There were large chairs with plush cushions and the most amazing chandelier which was vast and although it hung quite high it seemed quite oppressive because it was so enormous and it looked like it was made of a metal made of copper and silver with some turquoise stones in it if I remember rightly – imagine how heavy that must have been.
Sadly we didn’t eat in this amazing room but had to walk through it to get to the breakfast room which was a large high ceilinged sunroom that overlooked the pool – or so I saw through a gap in the curtain. The sun was so bright that there was at least a gauze drawn in every window to keep it cool I guess. I felt so decadent but yet so inappropriately dressed!
The variety of foods all ready for consumption was quite amazing from sardines and cold meats and cheeses a variety of breads, pastries, a variety of fruit juices, cereals and a small selection of fruit – mostly dried and yogurts. Then of course there was the hot selection as well – English breakfast etc omelettes to order – and finally what I had 2 of – waffles made to order – the totally fresh one I had just sugar with and then the next one I had chocolate sauce with – ooohhhhh yummie! It was the experience that made it though, the somewhat over extortionate price – we felt like school girls escaping bland school food!
After our delicious and frankly well earned breakfast we very quickly headed to the gift shop where I was hoping to find the Petra by Night DVD for Helen’s parents and perhaps a picture book of the area, just incase the worst possible thing happened and either my camera broke, or even worse got stolen. Jan got a couple of things and paid on her card and then I tried paying with my MasterCard but for some reason it took ages for it to go through and do I asked him to cancel it as time was running out and we were meant to be heading down to the Siq again to make our trip up to the High Place of Sacrifice after meeting the others at the Why Not?! shop at the bottom. I paid in cash in the end and we hit footed back to the Edom to dump our purchases, collect our cameras and head off. Hazim and the others were all waiting in the foyer but we rushed straight past them screaming something along the lines of two minutes.
So we made it back down and headed out with the others (Jan & Janet of course Hazim, Martin & Deb, Anne & Margaret) to the main gate again to meet Emily, Alex, Jeanne & Ronnie at the Why Not?! Shop. I still walked down in awe of my surroundings but I do feel that we walked a little too quickly, but I suppose that there was a schedule that we were slightly off due to our slightly later than planned departure (oops!)
I chatted to Debs until the beginning of the Siq, she and Martin booked this as a break from a stressful life back home – a relaxing break at that! As amazing and wonderful as the first day or do has been I would certainly not call it relaxing! We were chatting so much that we got a little bit behind and kept being shouted at by the others who were frog marching ahead to keep up.
Passing The Treasury again after walking through the Siq was just amazing even though I have seen it before I still found it absolutely amazing again. The sun was not on it quite as much as yesterday but it was amazing to see it in another light – quite literally!
So we arrived at the ‘Why Not?!’ stop and were all absolutely dripping in sweat – how attractive! We sat and had a coffee and waited for the others to reach us. We suddenly saw Ronnie fly past (almost literally) on a camel and Hazim went flying after them to see what was going on – she was totally whacked from her walk up to the monestary and was taking the fastest mode if transport back to the hotel!
Alex and Jan showed us a book that they had both got about a New Zealand lady that had married a Bedouin souvenir seller in the 70’s and lived in the caves that over looks the why not shop. Jan reserved the last one in the shop and we a headed off up to the High Place of Sacrifice. It was about 11.45am when we headed off and we later found out that the temperature was around 37 degrees. The phrase ‘mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid day sun’ springs to mind!
We were told that the walk would take about 39 mins, maybe 40 to get up there – bollocks. We had to remind Hazim that it was us walking now. Some of the steps were perfectly ok but some were wasting away but most you really needed pretty long legs as the steps were quite wide and I was taking 2 small steps on everyone. About 10 mins in – according to Jan that was only as far as we had gone but oooh bloody hell it felt like way, way longer than that. I was seriously struggling with my face feeling like a waterfall. I was SO hot – my top was frankly disgustingly wet. My asthma seemed to be fine, it was my poor heart that was going (to be read with an Indian accent) ooh bloody hell! I had to rest and wipe my face and wait for it to slow back down again – it really was quite scary I have to say. Maybe my heart was reacting to what my head was thinking or rather the thoughts that were rushing through my head. (suicidal ones)
All I could think about on the way up, which was really quite a quiet walk apart from Jan checking constantly on me seeing that I was clearly struggling – was what a perfect place this would be to die. I’m in a place that I have always wanted to visit, life hasn’t exactly been rosey as of late – well really as of ever. I still have that constant feeling like living my life is like being sunk or rather stuck in sinking sand – no light at the end of the tunnel going no where. I have only two proper strong ropes to grab on to for support and help constantly (Mum & Dad) other ‘ropes’ who are ‘always there’ always seem to snap. I think that I worked myself into a bit of a state, as well in my head and it really wasn’t something that I felt I could share with my fellow travellers.
We saw the Petra rose finch on the way up which sort of looked like a robin red breast. Hazim told us that it was the national bird of Jordan. Somehow – god only knows how how we made it to the top. I had jaded a conscious effort on the way up not to look at the view until I was right at the top so that I could really enjoy the breathtaking views and take the photos on the way back down again. I was recovering quietly at the top getting my heart rate back down when Hazim grabbed my hand as I was apparently about to be ‘sacrificed’. It is not entirely known whether human sacrifices took place up here but it was clear that sacrifices did take place as there was a clear place where blood ran and so on where animal sacrifices are more likely to have taken place.
We headed a little further on where we all sat close to the edge admiring the panoramic views of the city of Petra and more importantly the Royal Tombs below. Remembering how I was feeling of the way up and exactly what I was thinking of I began to feel really sick – particularly thinking frankly just how easy it would have been to jump off. I suddenly had a huge urge to call Mum and Dad – remind myself of why I am always wary of actually going through with any of these thoughts that I have – I know that it would totally destroy them and probably Hugo but that is about it. I sat behind jan so that I was right by but not directly by the edge and called. Thank god they were in. The fax machine noise came on so I called back and they were both on the line which was special and, totally unbeknown to them. I needed to hear their voices to remind myself not to do anything silly and tell them that I love them. People don’t seem to do that often enough these days.
So Jan and I creamed up and as a result were behind the others but that turned out to make our trip down even more spectacular as at points we could see specks of the others walking down further below but it was just us – totally different to what the guide book said!
I was glad to get back to the bottom my legs were like jelly and I could not get them to stop shaking when I stood still – it says the most bizarre feeling to put it mildly! I decided that frankly I deserved a bloody nice present for completing and coming out the other side of that little trip. I asked about the book as I quite fancied one too – one of the works in the store went down to the city of Petra to get a few more copies. Most of the others headed back which clearly left just Jan and I still shopping etc! I found two bracelets a mother of pearl star one and a beautiful moonstone one – I got them both, stuff it I frankly aren’t it. When I went to pay for it the son of the lady that had written the book served us so I asked him to sign the book too (his mother had clearly signed some before she left to tour the UK) which he willingly did. I tried to barter but as he pointed out they charged me for paying by card so I couldn’t really get a much cheaper price – fair enough I didn’t really care. Paid on the MC and the called through to check the details and Jan and I wondered off to start heading home to the hotel – boy we were seriously cutting it fine as we had to be out of the hotel by 2pm and it was 1:30!!
I was caught up with as embarrassingly, and I am not sure why – my MC had not worked so I paid on my current account instead which went through fine. We then decided that donkeys were definitely the answer and we managed to spot our little friend from yesterday. We hopped on the donkeys but we were told that we had to get off at the Treasury (literally around the corner from the Why not?! Shop) because of the ‘tourist police’ and that he would catch us up further up the Siq. We nevere paid him and he never caught us up further up the Siq. I am not quite sure how but we power waded back to the top of the Siq with me still acting like a Japanese Tourist with a camera around my neck!
Once at the top we got on horses to get to the entrance gate – the men were all arguing overe who was going on whose horse. I got in one in the end which I. Thought as rather fat and managed to trot most of the way back – Mum would have been most proud. Jan walked most of the way and so I had a while to chat to my horse’s keeper – the poor bugger was only pregnant which I was totally appalled by.
We then pegged it back to the hotel at very fast walk/ fast jog – how I have no idea as I was in so much pain. Some of them were in the foyer ready to go and we had some funny looks from them as we walked back in but the most bemused face by far was Hazims who we met on the stairs and all he said after looking at his watch was – we are checking out in 11 mins. So with a path of sweat beads behind us we said oh don’t worry we will be on time! The disbelieving face frankly said it all. (amused but totally disbelieving!)
After peeling off the sopping – no I am seriously not exaggerating! I leave that to Hugo and Dad! – clothes and shoving them in a case , quickly reorganising my bag for the night in the desert I jumped in the shower. Janet had warned me that there as no hot water when we bumped into her in the corridor so into the shower I jumped. OH MY GOD!!! How cold was that shower! After the unreal heat of the day though, boy did it feel good.
We arrived back downstairs 16 mins later – I was impressed with our speed and although he wouldn’t admit it – I think Hazim was too. What seriously amused Jan and I was that Alex was down 7 mins after us – yes we were that sad and timed it! We headed to the Red Cave again for lunch that Hazim had organised for us all – I felt like no food at all as I as seriously dehydrated and could have just done with water but I didn’t want to make myself noted.
We pottered around a little before heading to the Movenpick to have a coffee and try and get some bottles of wine for the evening in the desert. Thankfully Jan managed to get hold of a bottle of red and a bottle of white wine. It was at this time that I realised that Alex was an Ospreys supporter as he was receiving updates on the match with Glos – I said if he was coming to the Rec that I’d try getting tickets for him for next weekend.
We headed back to the hotel just in time to catch the bus to the Wadi Rum without really winding Hazim up – Jan and I were getting good at that! So we waved goodbye to Petra and headed out towards the desert highway for our night in the Wadi Rum. We paused briefly on the way out to look at the view back over Petra and the town of Wadi Musa. There was some hill with a house and a fair amount of green trees on it of which there was some mention of it being linked to the present, or was it the past King of Jordan’s brother. You can tell I was clearly not listening very well. We managed to get the driver to take a group photo of us all.
Then we headed on – the bus journey was a decent couple of hours and I think that I managed to kip a little between looking at the view. We passed into the entrance and further into the Wadi Rum following the railway that Lawrence of Arabia built in the early 20th century. The colour of the sand was just amazing in amongst the weathered bulbous domes that seemed to just spurt up from the ground.
We got onto the open backed jeep – well most of us did – me of course armed with a camera took photos for pretty much the entire jeep ride to our Bedouin camp where we would be spending the night. The mountains had loads of really weird ridges and the texture of some of the rocks were like dripping candle wax. With the sun almost setting we were racing back to the camp to try and delay and watch the sun set there.
When we arrived after our fairly bumpy journey and several bruises later we got our bags and put them in the tent where the camp was placed, surrounded in an L shape by rocks to protect those below from any adverse weather conditions. Jan and I didn’t go up the hill to look at the view from there – that was absoloutely out of the question – my legs were still totally like jelly and the mere thought if walking up there made me feel totally sick. We were shown where the loo was – thankfully not just a patch of open ground and a shovel which was what I was expecting and dreading but thankfully a form of flushing loo and the water facilities were basically a big wooden box of water with a little dripping tap and a bar of soap to wash our hands with.
Ronnie came back down and joined Jan, Hazim and I chatting by the fire on the mattress, with a bottle if Baileys and we admired the sunset sat on our bums. My tummie was still having a few wobblies dehydration, sunstroke or just the emotion of the day getting to me. Whatever way I was quite able if drinking a couple of plastic glasses of Baileys. It started to get darker and slowly but surely everyone came back down from the mountain/hill and join us around the fire and there was enough of us around and do jan cracked open the bottle of red wine.
Supper literally came out of the ground, it was amazing. Baked potatoes and onions and some meats and then salads and there was way too much food really, we hardly made a dent in it. I really didn’t feel like eating that much and do I had some meat only to put something in my tum. I stayed chatting with all of the others for a while and slowly people started lugging their mattress and heading out a little way away from the main camp being careful not to park our sleeping beds on the road! Anne, Margaret, Ronnie, Janet, jan & jan & I all put our beds around each other and eventually headed off to sleep. We giggled for a fair while and Hazim came and joined us too in the end which set Ronnie off totally. I have absoloutely no idea what time we all got to sleep or indeed exactly how much sleep I got. It was amazing sleeping in the desert though, quite surreal in many ways, thankfully not too cold.