Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jordan Day 3 - PETRA!! LOTS of pictures and videos,,,get ready for this:

 Finally!! This is the day I got to see PETRA, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world!  Petra is in the barren wilderness of southern Jordan, and was inhabited by the Nabataeans. They were a gifted tribe of Arabian people, originating from the Arabian Peninsula. They were part of the caravaneering business in the 1st century BC and AD, masters of the southern trade routes, and particularly profited from levying taxes on caravans coming up the spice routes from Arabia.  So this was a thriving city of people at the time of Jesus.
We are walking along the ancient main entrance to Petra. An impressive 1200 meter long, deep and narrow gorge of stunning rock cliffs.
Some of the first rock-carved buildings we saw. Everything you are about to see is carved from the native sandstone. This was a tomb, upper and lower. The bottom tomb had a 3-sided triclinium table that you could use to have banquets in the tomb of your deceased relative (hmmmm, I think I'd rather book it somewhere else)
 Still walking along the entry gorge.  It was an amazing site to see all the colors and striations in the rocks.

 It seems we were never going to get to the opening we were waiting to see. This entire entry walk was all sloped downhill as well....down, down, down...
 Here it is!! This is the famous first glimpse that we have of what is called the Treasury!!  You can see 2 camels and a Bedouin at the entrance. We got there early, and I was able to get this photo without hoards of tourists in the picture.  You'd better click on it to enlarge it, to get the sense of how magnificent this carved-out-of-stone building is.
 There it is!!  The Treasury! This structure is 43 meters high (how many feet is that?), carved in the 1st century BC as the tomb of an important Nabataean King, perhaps later used as a temple. It took genius to carve this thing, it is just breathtaking. The amazing thing is, now they have discovered a whole other floor below what you are looking at...when you get up close to those columns, you can look through grates and see the door opening below it. So this was even much taller in those days.  We were not allowed to go in this, because sandstone can be destroyed by the throngs of tourists.
 Here's a group shot in front of the Treasury...I am in the black sweater, white pants, carrying a blue bag in the front row to the right of center.  Notice the black young lady in the blue shirt in the middle of the front row. Her name is Beatrice, she is a student from Ghana, and I am going to tell you more about her in a bit.
 Looking up at the Treasury...astounding.
 Well, there is no staying on ground level with our group. We just have to climb..so we have just started up a 600+ step climb up to the 'High Place of Sacrifice', a place for pagan rituals...oh, boy.  Here I am looking down from where we just started the climb, you can see lots of doorways of dwellings.
 UP, up, up we climb...the ultimate stair master. I am twice the age of these kids, but I kept up somehow. I wasn't the first to the top,but I wasn't the last either:)
 Phew...I am resting on a rock, near the top, the view is spectacular.
 Those kids are at the top...and I am almost there!!
I MADE IT!!  Here I am passed out on the altar of sacrifice.  It actually felt good to lay on the cold stone, I was hot after all that climbing.   Hmmm, Clara used to work at Cold Stone Creamery, boy, does that sound good to me right now.
 I have to show you this funny video...While we were resting up on the High Place, I decided to teach Clara how to run my video camera, because I knew I was going to ride a camel today, and I wanted her to know how to take a video of me riding a camel. This is just hilarious.
So now we need to climb all the way down, but a different way. Along the path, I see these rock formations that look for all the world like scoops of rocky road ice cream to me...can you see it??? I want ice cream so bad, and this wasn't helping!!

 OK, this just isn't funny anymore...this scoop actually has nuts sprinkled on it....oh, I'm in pain now....
 Passing by a rock cliff, just look at these beautiful all natural colors in these rock formations!!
 Rachel is a little ahead of us...I yelled up to her to take her pic.
And  John and Laurie are a little behind us...I yelled back to them...note the flock of goats down and to the left.
 There were carvings all along the way. There seemed to be no end to it. This one was labeled 'The Garden Tomb".  I am not sure why. I sure couldn't see a garden.
 More tombs.  I don't know what their houses looked like, but their tombs were pretty fancy.
 Tombs, tombs, tombs...
 That's Clara...we were working our way down from another path, and decided our feet were tired and we just had to go find a camel to ride.
 Along the trail down...somebody is using this ancient carved dwelling as a garage..well, why not?
 I found me a camel.  He is still sitting on the ground, so it's not too difficult yet.  oh, I don't know about this.
Now we are up, this dude is tall, and all I have a little post sticking up from the saddle to hang on to. Clara's job is to take a video of me...she is riding a donkey next to my camel, and trying to fulfill her mission.This first short video is when the camel is holding still...that was easy for me.
This second video is when the camel starts walking, and I just can't stop laughing. I felt like I was gonna fall off if I let go of the little saddle horn.
 We finally get in a rhythm, I got it now...it's just I am gripping that saddle horn for dear life with 2 hands, and it is hard to take pictures at the same time.
As we are sauntering along, me on my camel, and Clara on her donkey, we come upon this ambulance. Obviously someone got hurt. And sadly, the next thing we hear is Rachel yelling up to us that Beatrice fell off a cliff, that she almost died, and that she broke her legs.  They were just loading her into the ambulance, there was nothing Clara and I could do for her, so we just began to pray hard.

 Here is the view from up on the camel..that's Rachel in the blond hair, and you can barely see Beatrice's neck (in a brace) and her two hands as the paramedics hover over her.  What happened was she took a wrong turn on a trail, trying to catch up to some of the group, she ended up on a ledge, and when she turned around to get back up, the ledge gave way and she fell 30 feet onto rock, and tumbled some more. Some French tourists saw her fall and got help, because none of our group even realized she had fallen when it happened. The good news is, they took her to a local hospital. She broke one leg, not two, she had a lot of cuts, scrapes, bruises, but no significant internal injuries. The doctors were amazed that it was not worse or fatal. She spent the night in the hospital, we picked her up in the bus and brought her back to Israel, and the next morning she flew to meet her family in Boston, and is likely having surgery on her leg as I am writing this. Please pray for Beatrice, this was so traumatic, is so painful, and she needs a quick and thorough healing. She is precious, always singing and smiling, and loves the Lord with all her heart.
 On a lighter note, in case you've never sat on a camel, this is what you see from up there.
 There's Clara on her donkey...she paid $7 and I paid $20 for a camel...I guess that's the going rate.
 Ok, so my camel is being ornery, this isn't funny, I feel quite unstable and I am trying to take a video here...I asked them for a gentle camel!
 Well, I finally got off that beast. Here's his face...his owner is climbing on to ride him back to the other side.  We parted as friends, but only because he didn't spit at me. I think I did seem him snarl, however, and I felt the same way about his behavior.
 Here's my last picture at Petra...that's me with arms raised. I loved seeing this spectacular site. Hope you enjoyed the view, too.

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