Friday, January 1, 2010

Petra Blue Moon

We first glimpse the Treasury after walking through a long deep canyon called the Siq, when sandstone walls reveal the intricately carved face of Petra. The stone facade glows golden, filling the air with an ethereal magic. After the postcard Petra experience, I worry that the rest of the Nabatean metropolis will disappoint, but the magic continues as the city of sandstone sprawls in every direction. We hike around the site for hours, exploring the holes and eroded facades that occupy every nook and cranny. Even more amazing is the visible effect of time on the ancient walls. The faces of tombs appear to be melting in a gothic display of dripping reds, purples, yellows and blues.

While looking for the Treasury viewpoint from the top of the canyon, I follow Clay up a stairway that seems to lead to nowhere. After many steps we arrive at the Sacred High Place- a carved stone altar used for rituals in biblical times. Although it's not what we're looking for, the views are worth the hike. Back down the stairway to nowhere, we pass the Royal Tombs and finally find the trail to the viewpoint. We briefly lose our way when, suddenly, the top of the Treasury's facade appears. The new perspective ignites a sense of discovery in both of us.

Down from the viewpoint, we take the main road through the center of the ancient city, passing souvenir shops, camel caravans and mysterious temple ruins. We head for the Monastery which is on the top of a mountain that we climb with several other tourists, many on donkeys. The reward is the remarkable Monastery, which, like the Treasury, is mostly a facade, the inside being only an empty room.

After climbing for several hours, we are ready to head back but I go for an alternative route. Soon, we are in a whole new part of the ancient city, seeing incredible tombs and ruins, some only partially uncovered. We follow a path that takes us to the Renaissance Tomb, Tomb of the Soldier and the Lion Fountain. All magnificent. Low on fuel, I'm hoping to turn the corner to find the main road but instead the trail leads up and up, more stairs. Clay helps me keep a good attitude when I'm seconds away from hopping on the next donkey I see. As soon as we reach the summit, Clay sighs, "Sacred High Place". We've climbed the back way to where we were that morning. We laugh at ourselves, enjoy the views again and finally descend, heading back to the hotel to rest before our New Years celebration begins.

That evening, we join a small crowd to walk the candlelit path through the Siq in silence. When we arrive, the space in front of the Treasury is dotted with paper lanterns. Traditional music plays and we drink hot Beduoin tea, enjoying the Treasury in moonlight.

1 comment:

foster said...

Wonderful! Nice how you let us try to figure out the scale and then reveal the grandness with the shot of Temple in he doorway! And of course I love those stripy rocks! just fantastic! To think I'd never heard of it! Thanks!