A full year of travel allows me to go deep into what specifically it is I look for and love in cities. What’s at the core. What floats my boat and finds my lost remote, so to speak. It’s a process still in flux, and I suspect once arrived upon, this may end up as an entire entry. For now, I acknowledge that few places have given me so much opportunity to think and speculate and ponder as the historic and archaeological city of Petra Jordan. The area now known as Petra has been inhabited from as early as 7000 BC, and the Nabataeans settled in what would become the capital city of their kingdom as early as the 4th century BC. So somewhere between 6,000 and 9,000 years of humans human-ing around these here parts. Yet it’s mostly a mix between a National park and an ancient excavated site. I can sit in a cafe along the main road and I can free climb up above the carved stone structures. Mostly I hike and think and write and drink water. I keep it simple. I’ve got a 3 day pass and I knock out something like 20 miles hiking and climbing in one day alone. 10 miles another. It’s fantastic. I cannot recommend a visit enough. Much of my recorded words revolve around fleeting thoughts and random happenings, though I do manage to get some good sketches done and take a ton of photos.
Pull up looking for parking and I don’t know where to do it. Fuck I hate that I just thought that. I feel like maybe I should go be American as fuck because of it now. A real asshole. I did rent a car in Jordan tho — first time doing that as a solo traveler. Whatevs. I made it and only a day after my birthday. Not gonna ‘Merica out. Keeping the worldview.
At least I’m self guided, ready to say no to a thousand offers with Shukran. I’m not looking to buy. Anything. Nada. It’s easier because it’s Ramadan. People are chill and tired and hungry. Gracias Allah.
I do end up copping some scarves on day 3. The scarf woman’s name is Turquoise. Ask the nice Canadiens, she says. Hahaha. Personality types of all of these salespeople are wild. Loud boisterous men billowing sales pitches through the canyons. The echo is intriguing. My man, it’s like 2 hours to Iftar, you should be exhausted. He must really need the money. I’ve been drinking water but general fasting from food and I’m exhausted.
The best spot in all of this middle eastern wonderland is Ad Deir. The Monastery. Little kids huff and puff. Old folks get on donkeys. It’s a climb. Once up I’m blessed with this 150 feet high and 150 feet wide 1st century structure. This monumental building carved out of rock is as old as Christ — but never left us. Take that Hay Soos. The huge facade, the inner chamber and the other structures next to it or in the wider area around the Deir originally served a complex religious purpose, and then was repurposed as a church in the Byzantine times.
This climb right now though. It’s hard but it’s worth it. I take pictures. A draw pictures. I sit. For hours. My butt makes an appearance. Coming early morning is a good idea, the trail is a bit more popping on my way back down. How many people on their way up will ask me how much further it is – in various accents of English no less. Do I look like a tour guide? I give them my amateur advice, “not too far”.
I trespass to “The Treasury”, Indiana Jones be damned. Petra is part Disneyland and part Desert Solitaire. Populated long before anything we know as civilized, left for dead and then unearthed only to be ruined by the quest for “likes” and the search for social media currency. Ruined by the gram. Or at least the concept of “influencers”. To capitalize on this ridiculous trend, Jordanians have built a cafe at the best viewpoints. I’m not here to buy, like I said. Respect the pilgrimage. There’s no signs keeping me out. I sneak around the purchase point, climb under a rock on my belly, tear my shirts and get the shot every basic Betty dreams of. Well shit if my grandmothers name wasn’t Elizabeth I wouldn’t have this photo. I need to get some free gear from adidas while I’m at it. Instead I get yelled at in Arabic. Fortunately, my giving-a-fuck in on vacation too.
I hike to the “Place of High Sacrifice” Nice trail trail. Rugged. I sacrifice my legs, its like mile 20. There’s a family of goats in the trail. A group of goats is known as a herd. Less common names include tribe, trip, and flock. What a trip!! Old momma goat gets separated. A female goat is a doe—unless she’s a mother, in which case she’s known as a nanny. This nanny is a rocking a call and response communication with the pack. She’s a veteran rapper. I sit by and admire how nature handles adversity. Usually better than humans. These goats might be better firefighters than some I work with. Firefighters, not goats. There’s no goats at the FD. Not even a dog. Relaxed and yet exhausted, my mind amalgamates into the oneness (or none-ness) of the living universe. My sentences fragment and brain starts to melt into natural world joy. Words fail, and so pictures shall do the remainder of my speaking.