Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Into the Wilderness

About the time I took this shot in 2008, a family led their animals
across the scene--two adults and one baby camel. 
About a ten-mile drive from Petra is "Little Petra," or Al Beidha ("white one"--named for the cliff colors). One enters the site through a narrow gorge called Siq al-Barid, the "cold Siq." ("Siq" is Arabic for "gorge.") High walls prevent sunlight from entering and heating the canyon, hence "cold." 

Many believe Little Petra served as the  entry and exit point for trade routes to the north and northwest for ancient caravans from the Negev, Gaza, Jerusalem, Egypt and the Mediterranean. Like Petra, it has buildings carved into the sandstone, along with water channels and cisterns. In one building, tourists can see remains of a first-century A.D. painted fresco with birds, grapes and flowers.  

After a visit to Taybet Women’s Co-Op, sponsored by USAID and benefiting women, we transfer to the desert and my favorite place in Jordan--Wadi Rum. Here we'll tour the new museum and visitor center before hopping on Jeep 4 X 4's for a ride out to rocks and sand, for the best vista as the sun goes down. From there we transfer to a private camp. Our zarb--Bedouin BBQ--dinner tops off the day. Workers dig a pit in the sand, build a hot fire, place meat and veggies on racks atop the red coals, cover it all with a tarp and dump sand on top to keep the heat in. Then voila! Dinner Bedouin style. We'll say goodnight in Bedouin tents, and I'll imagine what it was like to live like Jael.

As for current events, we have no sense of any turmoil here. People seem thrilled to see us, wave enthusiastically as we drive through the countryside, and are completely hospitable. I'm with ten journalists, so we talk lots about stories and politics; and we take photos and interview people on the street. Tonight as we were walking in Petra, one of the guys with us said, "Hey, how are you?" as he passed a man, and the guy answered, "What's up, dawg?" 

Disclosure: The Jordan Tourism Board is covering most of the expenses for this trip, though it exercises no influence over what we say or write about it.

1 comment:

Wayne Stiles said...

You're so right, Sandi. The "Middle East" always sounds so formidable until you've been there. It's really a great and safe place to visit.

Sure am enjoying your updates. Thanks!