To the Edge – or Falling into The Treasury

Entrance Road to Siq

Road to Siq

“Hey Bahrain!” the Jordanian cowboy called out as he waved me down.  “You want your horse ride today?  It’s free, part of your ticket.”

“Sorry,” I told him.  “We are allergic to horses.  Plus, we arranged for a donkey today.”

“With Juomaa?” he asked.

“Yes,” we confirmed.

Defeated, he shook our hands and said good-bye.  The game was over.

9:20. Of course, we were late.  The tour groups had already made it to the Treasury.  A sound floated our direction – a whistle? Our eyes followed the sound to the grinning Maaz, still dressed in brown.  We hardly recognized Juomaa sitting next to him, looking regal in his thobe and gold ghuttra.

Our Salams said, we boarded our 5-star donkeys.  Our tent-mates insisted we could make it to the High Point of Sacrifice by ourselves, but Joumaa’s promise to show us the unmentionable place held my curiosity.  Maaz led my donkey while I texted my husband.  “If you don’t hear from me by the end of the day, then send someone to look for the circling buzzards.”  Following narrow trails, we reached a silk-rock cave.

“This was a classroom.”  Joumaa pointed out the markings on the walls.  They were early 19th century, nothing ancient.

“And here is the place,” he said ushering us around the corner before he hurried away.

Ancient Fertility Symbol

The unmentionable  – a reminder of the Goddess’ rites practiced under a full moon – a huge phallus carved in the back wall.  After seeing that big boner, I understood the Old Testament tirades against Baal.

The visit took ten minutes.  4,000 years later, save the lone phalli, there was nothing left of those wild, fertile times.  When we returned, our donkeys were gone.

“I sent the boy ahead.” said Juomaa.  “We will walk this way.”

Joumaa Kudblan #petra bedouin guide @evathedragon 2013

He led us through trees and boulders, narrow passages.  We were not the first to cross the ancient steps, but we definitely needed a Bedouin’s guidance.

I heard humming, the echo of a thousand, gathered voices and whispered to Juomaa.

“Shhhh, he said pointing at Louise.

Still wearing her gold shoes, Louise broke through the brush.

“Close your eyes,” I said.  “Hold out your hands.”

“Why?  What are you going to do to me?”  Conjuring the vestal virgins, she stood tall and held out her palms.

“We will guide you.”

As if she knew her fate, she asked in a regal tone, “Where are you taking me?”

“Trust us,” said Juomaa.

It took us a dozen steps to walk her across the boulders.

“Stop here,” Juomaa commanded only centimeters from the edge.  Gripping her forearms so she could not break away, he said, “Now – open them.”

Startled, she nearly fell.  Then tears swelled in her eyes as she took in the Treasury below us.  From our ledge, the tourists and the Bedouin looked like ants.

treasury overlook people are ants by @evathedragon 2013

“It’s so beautiful,” she whispered.  “I am overwhelmed.”

Surprise,” said Juomaa.

To be continued …

ABOUT JUOMAA KUDBLAN THE PETRA BEDOUIN GUIDE

Jouma Petra Bedouin Guide Jordan by Eva the dragon 2013

Juomaa Kudblan, Mr. Friday, was a man we instantly felt comfortable with.  His mobile is 00 962 7 7753 5425.

You can arrange to meet him at the Petra entrance, or, if you are lucky, arrange to meet him at Haroun’s for a sunset trip to the Monastery.  He charged us each 50JD for our four-hour tour.  His rate matched the rates quoted on Frommer’s.  His donkey were well-cared for, and he is a kind, stable individual.

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Plundering the Treasury

petra jordan siq entrance eva the dragon 2013 v2

Voices rumbled against the Siq’s walls.  Braying donkeys echoed through the canyon.  Camels honked and the din grew louder.

“What is going on?” Louise asked.

“We’re almost there.  Keep going.  Around the corner.”

Breaking into the sunlight, we found ourselves in a market square directly in front of the Treasury.

tourists around treasury at petra by eva the dragon 2013

Petra continues to be a thriving city.

Coffee shops and gift stalls surrounded small herds of donkeys and camels waiting to transport the weary.  Children and women peddled jewelry, scarves and souvenirs made in China.  Dirty boys walked around selling postcards.  Young men showcased their horse riding and rock climbing skills for the young women.  Even in its ruined state, the Treasury is magnificent and lively.  I easily imagined the Romans, Arabs, Egyptians and other foreigners converging and trading both goods and stories.

We snapped photos and enjoyed the scene.  However, it would have been nice to have a little distance from the hundreds of “other” tourists snapping photos.

Our plan was to be in Petra for the Wednesday night, candlelight tour to the Treasury.  When we inquired about the tour, the man behind the ticket counter told us, “It has been cancelled.”

“Why?  That is why we came today!  We are so disappointed.”

“I am sorry.  There has been trouble,” he informed us, giving us a look “if you only knew”.

Hmmm.  The Bedouin run Petra.  If there was “trouble”, it meant they were crossed.

Still, we were happy. It was a beautiful day.  There was a lot more to explore.

I sipped tea as Louise interrogated the security guards about the whereabouts of the elusive Marguerite.

To be continued…..

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