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Petra - 2007 - page 1 [page 2]

Enroute to the Bahá'í World Centre

by Bryn and Sherna Deamer

In the coming month (or so), photos will be uploaded of Petra in Jordan, and Cairo, Luxor and Alexandria in Egypt. which we visited enroute to Haifa.
(Images of those parts of the trip will be found under their own pages from the links above)

Arriving at Tel-Aviv from Frankfurt on Monday, we transited to the 50 Seat Arkia plane to Elat, then walked over the boarder into Jordan and caught a Taxi to Wadi Musa.

Passing one of the Jordanian Royal Palaces (the Green on the Hill above, and stopping for a photo, we arrived in the dusty little town of Wadi Musa and settled into the Petra Gate Hostel.

As the Sun set and the lights came on, even Wadi Musa started to look better. Naser, our delightful Hoste and owner of Petra Gate, drove us to the ticket booth of the Petra Reserve, where we paid for entry for the Candle Light tour. The "Rough Guide to Jordan" recommend hanging back at the end to let the noisy people go first. Luckily only one other couple appeared to have read the same guide so it worked out well.

We walked down the moonlit trail letting everybody go ahead until just about everybody was far enough ahead of us for to be able to feel as though we were the only ones there. The path was deliniated by thousands of illuminata (candles in brown paper bags), which once we entered the famous narrow Siq, where the high walls blocked the moonlight, became our only light.

As we neared the end of the Sig, we started to hear the strains of the the traditional beduin, one stringed lute, acompanied by the monotous toned chanting of a performer. We exited the narrow chasm and found ourselves in the front of the famous "Treasury" lit by hundeds more candles. Tea was being served to the 2 or 300 people that were already there sitting in utter silence. Shortly after we arrived, the lute and singer came to and end, and the faint sound of a flute being played floated out of the bowels of the "Treasury", and became stronger as the player exited the tomb, decended the steps, and walked around the enclosure. It was truly magical and very well done. Then we were welcomed by the Beduin guide in a short speach. After letting us wander around the enslosure for a few minutes, the spell was broken by the starting of an gasoline generator off in the distance, brightly lighting up the gift shop - Time to go.

Many stayed on, some until the early hours of the morning, but we opted to walk back out and get some sleep. It had been a long trip that day from SF to Frankfurt, to Tel-Aviv to Elat then to Wadi Musa..

Next morning we returned, Sherna and Bonnie availing themselves of one the horse drawn carriages that took them all the way to the Treasury.

I walked down with the guide and learned that the "Siq' is actually an earthquake created fissure, later worn by water, and slightly widened in some sections by the Nabateans to provide a ceremonial, priestly, entry to the "Treasury" area.

In very recent years UNESCO and Jordan have jointly worked on the site, including escavating the Siq down to the cobblestones originally laid by the Nabatean's, and uncovering the two water channels that ran down each side.

Despite the numbers of tourists, it is still an impressive sight to see the facade of the huge Tomb known as the "Treasury" appear at the end of the narrow gap, then suddenly be revealed in its full splendor as one enters the forecourt.

It is huge - This is Sherna and Bonnie sitting on the step as the entry. Inside is simply an empty tomb.

All that we see of Petra today really is just the tombs in the surrounding rock. 80% of the city is still buried in the sand, but the huge amphitheatre and one colinnaded road has been excavated, and the work will continue for decades to come. Sherna and Bonnie swapped their Carriage for donkes to get them up to the top of the Mountain holding the set of tombs known as the Monestary.

It was fascinating, and exciting to be looking into the Arava Valley from the east. For 19 years we had driven up and down the valley looking longingly over the border, knowing that Petra was just over the the other side of the barbed wire, landmines and machine gun emplacements. Even when the Peace Treaty was signed in 1992, we still could not visit because of our status as staff of the Bahá'í World Centre. Carved into the top of the mountain is the tomb known as the "Monastary"


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