We stayed in the Red Sea town of Aqaba, just a few miles from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It is much cheaper here than Israel, and our hotel suite cost less than a shared Airbnb room in Jerusalem. I wish I could filter that I don’t want to rent from a group of college students. This was our third time and it is always messy and chaotic. We enjoyed the transition to a nice hotel with a balcony view of the Red Sea.
We came to Jordan to see Petra. It cost a small fortune to get in ($140 entrance + $3 CC fee + $10 processing), but this place is truly incredible. Built in the first century and abandoned since the seventh, the scale of the carvings is breathtaking. We had seven hours to hike and explore before catching our bus back to Aqaba. I thought that would be way too much time, but it allowed us to hike about 12 miles through the canyons and to see each of the archaeological sites. Petra is beautiful and fascinating. It reminds me of the slot canyons in Zion if they had been carved into palaces and mausoleums by an ancient civilization.
We had a clear day with temperatures near 60F–perfect weather for hiking. I can’t imagine hiking these canyons in the heat of summer. We brought 3 liters of water for ourselves and we didn’t see any within the park. Guides persistently offered to take us to special viewpoints, but we are skeptical and independent so we refused. We found our own trails and for the most part we didpn’t get lost. The trails are frequently trodden, but unmarked at junctions.
We ate our picnic at a high place of sacrifice and met a friendly mountain kitty.
Our side trail connected back to the main trail at 2:30pm and we had 2.5 hours to hike up to the Monastery and then backtrack out of the park. The main trail didn’t list distances, but it gave an estimate of 4 hours for the trek. I reasoned that this was probably the slowest hiker’s pace and that strong hikers like us could make it in less time. I promised Aaron that if we hadn’t reached the Monastery by 3pm (30 minutes from now) we would turn around and hike out. We powered up the mountain and arrived at 2:57. I am so glad we didn’t miss it.
We marveled for ten minutes then flew back down the mountain. We reached the canyon floor and eased up our pace so that we could enjoy the ruins along the way. We made it to our bus by 4:30pm with high spirits and aching legs.
We watched the sun set over the mountain wilderness as we rode back to Aqaba.
The food groups here are fattet hummus and pita. We had dinner on a sidewalk cafe next to a family with three kids: two preschoolers and a baby in a stroller. One kid would ram the baby and stroller into the other child, much to the delight of all three, and then one would push the baby and stroller down the sidewalk for the other to chase after. Eventually the mom rescued the baby while letting the kids play with the stroller, but the kids didn’t want to play with an empty stroller.
Our bus to Amman was slowed by a sandstorm, rainstorm, then hailstorm, but we made it. Tomorrow we fly to Poland.