Sunday, August 28, 2005

Petra - day three - High altar of sacrifice

Sunset, Petra

Up again at 6 and at the Treasury before 7 and today we decided to go up to the High Altar of Sacrifice.

Again a great walk up the mountain, up steps cut out of the beautiful multi-coloured layered rock more than two thousand years ago. At the top, a large square flat altar dug out of a plateau, with drains for the blood to run out and steps facing the great mountain (Jebel Haroun). Debate surrounds who or what was sacrificed up here, with stories abounding that humans here were sacrificed, as if it were an Aztec shrine. A bit of wishful thinking on behalf of the tourist guides wanting a good story.

Down to the wadi the other side was even better than the way up, with numerous tombs carved out of the rocks, and many beautiful natural features sculpted by wind and rain. In fact it is such a wonderful combination: Nabatean tombs and sculptures, wind and rain sculpted natural features, desert vegetation, limestone rocks, mountains, gullies, canyons, gorges and bedouins.

We are constantly amazed about how few people we have seen here, especially the last couple of days. One hears differing stories, but it seems that tourist numbers took a dive after 11th September but are now recovering year-by-year. Really, the world's tourists are missing out on something very special.

Anyway, to end the day, we managed to get Fred to ride a horse for teh last kilometer or so but it was not an experience he enbjoyed. I had better fun, as I was allowed to gallop the horse back and then was allowed to ride one of the prize Arab crossbreds a little as they tried to sell me another trip.

Further, we have arranged to stay here another day, then go to Wadi Rum for two days on Tuesday, then two days Aqaba, then to Amman on Saturday before flying to San'a on Sunday afternoon. Maybe a donkey ride for me up to Jebel Haroun, Fred to a mosaic-floored church.

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