Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Petra by Night

The gruelling bus journey with the rancid toilet stop may have been enough to put anybody off. Not us though! And what the evening had in store for us made it all completely worthwhile.
But first of all, we learned a valuable lesson. No matter how brilliant the guidebook says the hotel is, never check into one that is situated right out of town. The chap at the reception was very friendly. “Salaam alykom”, he greeted heartily with a wide smile. We felt very welcome! “Walykom asalaam”, we chorused in response. The journey from this hostel into Wadi Musa was a fair old hike: downhill all the way, but a crippling climb to get back! The taxi service in the area is hilarious: they quote us three JDs just for a short ride, then get offended when we offer just one JD, then look quizzical when we say “Ok, we’ll walk then instead” as our stock response when they refuse to do it for the one dinar. Half of them immediately relent and we get in; the other half drive away empty…
That evening, before our famous duo went out to visit the Lost City of Petra by candlelight, they decided to ‘go native’.

Jon elected to disguise himself as a Jordanian Bedouin, whilst Simon decided to go Palestinian. Do you think that they were able to blend into the scenery? Or did countless Jordanian men stop them and rearrange the headgear into the correct manner?

On the way down into the depths of the Wadi Musa valley towards the legendary Petra, the sun sank behind the phenomenal rock formations of the desert landscape.

Few people are privileged enough to visit the Siq and Treasury of Petra after nightfall, and to do this by the light of 1,700 candles is a truly magical experience. We were accompanied by a crowd of roughly two hundred people, but we fell back away from the crowd so we could hear the night time noises of the gigantic gorge on the way to the Treasury. Following the warm, yellow glow of the candles was equally as great, turning each old bend in the ravine.

And then, unexpectedly, there through the next tall fissure in the rocks of the siq, without warning and looming majestically upwards yet still concealed by the rock so that we can only see a fraction of the main façade, there is the Treasury. It’s massive. Much, much bigger than we had at first imagined. How stunning this sight must have been to those weary travellers two-thousand years ago, and how stunning right now to these two weary travellers as it begins to materialise through the candlelight. As we approach, everybody else is still and silent, sitting on the ground listening to Bedouin musicians. Suddenly, from far within the Treasury, there floats down the distant sound of a simple flute. This flute incantation gradually becomes more rhythmic, more hypnotic and mesmerising as the player gradually moves towards us and the impressionistic sounds slowly become more distinct.

As luck would have it, some Brazilians were filming there and Jon got into conversation with one of them. It turned out that they were from São Paulo and they were filming some kind of professional documentary for the television. The young lady, with whom Jon was talking, suddenly pulled her cameraman towards him and shoved a microphone to his face. At this stage, Jon didn’t know what to say in English, let alone Portuguese. Anyway, we think that he will be on Brazilian TV soon. It could only happen to Jon!

1 comment:

  1. Hilarious photos Si looks like he’s has applied suave cream to his face and Jon .. well where’s your Kalashnikov
    Big lol to the thumbs up photo too.
    The flute sounded magical