Caught a service taxi from Amman to Petra. Durring the 3 hour drive saw: Sun, hard rain, dust storms, and thunder storms. Got to Wadi Rum (the village outside the enterance to the lost city of Petra) with the sun shinning. Checked into the hotel / hostel that had been recommended by several people. Decided that I'd go to the ruins for the afternoon / evening, then spend all day tomorrow at the site. As I was setting off Mike, one of my roommates from Jerusalem was checking in, so I waited for him.
The hotel gave us a ride down to town and I bought my ticket to Petra (2 days: 25 JD, over US$37! But one day would have been 20 JD - US$30). We walked through the siq. Siq is the arabic word for canyon, and this is quite a canyon. It reminds me of the Narrows in Zion National Park. The sheer walls are over 300 feet high, yet at some points only about six feet a part. Trying to describe the first view of Petra is going to fail as miserably as the description of a sun rise. One moment you're are in the dark, narrow siq, then suddenly in front of you there is a red pillar just vissible between the walls. A dozen steps later and you are out of the canyon and there is a huge columned temple carved out of the solid red stone of the canyon walls. The Treasury, I'd seen it before, it's where the final scene from the third Indian Jones move, The Last Crusade, was filmed - but at the time I thought it was just excellent special effects.
As you move into the site there are hundreds of tombs and dwellings carved into the rock. Some of the elaborate facades look almost new (like the Treasury) others have been so extremely weathered by the wind that the stone looks more like drift wood than rock. The colors of the rock would make the canyons notworthy evenwithout the stunning ruins. Bright reds, yellows, blues, and almost every other color band the rock, with reds and pinks being the predominant hues. Mike and I avoided any detailed exploration and headed for one of the further monuments, located at the top of a long canyon. About an hour and 800+ stairs later we got to The Monastery. This is Petra's largest structure, and is if possible, even more impressive than the Treasury. We climbed to the top and I sat on the crown with my legs dangling in the air and only four inches of stone carved almost two thousand years ago between me and the ground 150 feet below to watch the sun set.
By the time we got back down to the base there was no one to be seen and it was starting to get dark. It got darker and darker as we hurried back. By the time we got to the main canyon it was almost black out. Then the lightening started. Just minutes (seconds?) after joking about snakes and scorpians a barely visible four foot long black shape slithered in front of us. As we're walking through a city dead for almost a thousand years with visions of snakes in our heads, and the surreal landscape briefly visible every few minutes in a flash of lightning we realized what a perfect beginning to a bad horror move we had. Fortunately nothing whent wrong in our hour hike, and we were back in the hotel only two hours late for dinner (luckily they'd saved some for us), and just in time to see the start of (of course) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.