Saturday, August 27, 2005

Petra day two... Monastery and bedouin barbecue

Jordan - Fred, Monastery, Petra

We spent another day at Petra, getting up at 6 am and being one of the first to the Treasury at just before 7.

Today we were off to the Monastery, which meant carrying on from where we were the day before and walking down the main Roman way - the Cardo Maximus, as we have seen in so many sites, this one with columns and temples. After this began the long walk up to the top, through another river bed (wadi) and up the 800 or so steps,passing spectacular views all along the way, as we followed two donkeys carrying water and their handler.

The Monastery, once we made it there at 9, in the still cool morning air, was another massive temple carved into the rock face, this time without the statues, but with an urn sitting on top. Beautiful. We spent about two hoursup at the top, drinking coffee at the bar up there, watching the beautful birds, notably the pink sparrows (to match the stone) and green Palestinian Sunbirds, chatting with an old goatherd who took us off to see a small temple with camels, carved into the rock at the entrance and who showed us lots of fragments of Nabatean and Roman pottery just lying in the sand, waiting to be picked up.

Down was easy, and it was getting busier, many people taking the donkeys up. At the bottom, I was persuaded to take a donkey out with Nasr, who we had met at the top. We would go to the Spring, over and round ot the bedouin village and out to the desert for a chicken barbecue. Fred preferred an easy afternoon back at the hotel.

So off I went with Nasr and as good a time as we had it wasn't quite what was promised as the last bits we did by jeep and in the middleof it all, I had a couple of hours to snooze at Nasr's family's house.

It was great being out in the desert, watching the rocks change coloursas the sun set to the west, then watching first the planets and then the stars come out, the Milky Way suddenly throwing itself across the sky. Even got to see a couple of shooting stars, a wish attached to each.

Nasr talked about his family, his village, his tribe, his new wife, who I had met previously, and how much she cost (lots of gold and 15 goats) and his various experiences (mostly sexual) with the tourists who come to Petra, while he prepared the barbecue of chicken and tomatoes, washed down with 'bedouin whisky' (which we know as sweet tea!). It was a good evening.

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