And you would have walked all the way in and out of Petra. Ronnie and I spent the day yesterday traveling in Jordan up to Petra, with a quick city tour of Aqaba for starters. I say quick, because as much as it's growing, it's a pretty small town with a palace, a port, lots of plans for new beachfront property, and not much else.
We were picked up at 7am by a man named Shor, who looked like he came to Eilat as part of his mid-life crisis. And he came in a jeep, that already had 4 other people sitting in it. So we got in and headed to the border. And a few minutes later Shor remembered that he had one more couple to pick up. And they turned out to be in their 80's, but pretty spry. So now there are 9 of us in the jeep, barreling for the border.
We crossed the border, borded a van with a man named Mohammed and set out for Aqaba, which is not quite on the way to Petra, but not so far out of the way. And, in Aqaba, we picked up apples, oranges and warm water.
2 hours and a bathroom break later, we were in Petra. Or, to be exact, 2 kilometers outside of Petra. So we started walking (the older couple took a carriage). The canyon leading into the city was pretty cool - with really tall walls, colors of rocks that you don't usually see in rocks (bright yellows, blues and reds). There were donkeys and camels and horse-drawn carriages ferrying those people who didn't want to walk, to the ancient city. At some point, one of the chariots (a fast moving carriage?) sort of ran into Ronnie. He's fine, but his arm has what will hopefully not be a permanent souvenir on it.
A few more kilometers later, we were in the heart of Petra. It's amazing what they can carve out of stone. Our guide, Mohammed, said that as a child, they lived in a house without a good roof, and for the three months of rainy season, they would come live in the caves of Petra.
And then you could walk out, or take a camel most of the way. I walked, and Ronnie cameled.
The other interesting thing we saw there were the original Jordanian Almonds. In the US, they're almonds covered in chocolate. But in Jordan, it's a hybrid of an almond tree and a carob tree. The almonds grow with a carob shell around them. It's not really almond season now, so we couldn't taste them. But if I'm ever back in Jordan in the fall....
The flight back to Tel Aviv was pretty uneventful, except we were all the way in the front of the tiny little plane, facing all the other passengers. And there are no windows. And you're not allowed to have anything in your hands - a newspaper, a book, a bottle of water - for landing or take-off. It was just annoying.
On the way back to Jerusalem we stopped at the Ben Gurion airport to say hi to E. (this entry feels long enough to write it like it's a Russian novel) who was picking up Hillel professionals for a summer session at Pardes, a non-denominational yeshiva. Plus, we could eat there and buy a few presents. It would be pretty easy to come to Israel and not leave the airport.....