Africa

Excursion to Petra from Egypt (part II)

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That day I got up so early that when the alarm rang, for the first time in the whole trip I didn't know where I was. Very tired, asleep and disoriented, I went to breakfast and at 7 took us to the visitor center to visit Petra. We only had until one in the afternoon, since at that time we had stayed with Patrícia to share a taxi back to Aqaba.

Climbing to the high place of sacrifice.

As my legs hurt a lot and on that day we wanted to visit the enclaves that are high in the mountains, I thought we could take a donkey-drawn carriage to the Treasury and thus at least save us the two kilometers of ascent and two others of descent. But here is my surprise when after a while "joking" with the person who attended us in the visitor center, he snapped at me that I was young and that I used my legs because the car was for the elderly. I thought I was kidding, but no, I meant it very seriously. Anyway, I got out of there so pissed off that although the guides offered me to ride a horse for 3 dinars, I didn't feel like it at the head. So my stubbornness made me add 4 extra kilometers to my already sore legs.

And the steps of the stairs were not regular.

We arrived at the Treasury and stopped to take some pictures practically alone. In the guide we read that at 11 the sun was setting, so we decided to continue forward and later to see it illuminated again. A few meters to the right began the staircase that takes you to the altar of sacrifice. The altar of sacrifices was where the Nabateans sacrificed animals to their gods and getting there is not easy. You have to climb some stairs with many steps and steps all of a different size. When we arrived at the obelisk I gave up and said that I did not climb any more steps, so I sat down and my partner followed the path. While I was sitting there I dedicated myself to contemplate the views from the heights. Awesome. And I also entertained myself playing with a kitten that came to take refuge between my legs when a Bedouin boy of about two years came out behind him with a stick and bad intentions. I stayed with the boy and the kitten for a while.

The obelisk

Once you are in the high place of the sacrifice you can continue going up and down stairs for a good while until you reach the tomb of the Garden. But I wanted to see the Monastery that was on the other side of the enclosure and, for fear of not giving us time, we started down the stairs. Obviously, going down the stairs was not as difficult as climbing them, and while we were going down I met the Bedouin boy I had been talking to the day before and greeted each other effusively. He was climbing with a group of tourists to the high place of sacrifice. I was very excited to see him again. Once down we saw that in a part of the cave-houses there were some figures dressed as "Nabateans" simulating the lifestyle of that ancient people. It looked a bit like Port Aventura, but it was fun to watch.

At the indicated time we paddled part of the way to see the Treasure illuminated by the sun's rays and the truth is that it is cooler as well. It gives like an air of mystery to the construction. After taking several photos, we went back down towards the Roman theater and passed by the column road, which, as the name implies, is a street with columns on the sides. At that point I recommend everyone to turn 180º and contemplate the landscape. It is very nice to have in the field of view the Roman road with the columns and the Nabatean houses built on the rocks in the background.

While we were going to the stairs that led to the Monastery, a Bedouin approached us to offer us a donkey. We were not convinced by the idea, but since we had almost no time left and I no longer felt my legs, I put on my face of "I DON'T LIKE ANIMALS, FEAR ME" and started to negotiate. In the end, going up and down to the Monastery cost us 10 dinars per person. Riding a donkey is one of the most amazing experiences I've lived so far. As I told Mohammed that I was afraid of donkeys, he was leading the animal for a good chunk until, at one point, he got on his donkey and pulled mine. The animal knows the path of memory, but it also impresses to see how it goes up the stairs going mounted on top of it and also having a precipice just a few centimeters away. I only prayed that the animal would not have a stumble and we would end up falling both down.

But no, the animal is wise and took us to the Monastery in a very short time, just as Mohammed had promised us. This Bedouin told us that the last flight of stairs, which was very short, we better walk up and in the meantime he would wait for us there. And, said and done, we walk up. The Monastery is another tomb similar to the Treasury and is known by this name because the Christians used it as a monastery in ancient times.

After visiting the Monastery we returned where Mohammed was waiting for us. The man was with colleagues or perhaps relatives having tea at one of several Bedouin craft stops. In those that one of the women approaches me and offers me a tea. The tea was boiling but the glass was shaky and black. There is no running water to wash the pots. Then I had a dilemma: I say no or I accept and I don't make the woman ugly. And at that point in the trip I thought: lost to the river. And I drank the tea.

Going down the winding stairs is even scarier than climbing them. To do this you have to throw the body back while you hold on to the reins of the animal so as not to fall. During a stretch that was very complicated, Mohammed got off his donkey and took mine so we wouldn't go down the ravine. But my partner went up and down without anyone guiding him. There were times when the stairs were so narrow that the tourists who walked up had to stick to the wall so we could pass. As I said before, a total experience. You have to try it.

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