I would like to tell you about a special experience. For obvious reasons I don’t have any pictures, unfortunately.
It was in Amman, and we were going out for dinner at a nice restaurant. I was almost the last one of the group coming to the stairs up to the restaurant and at the stairs stood a woman in a niqab. The dress was of course black, but the head garment was very white. I normally have given up to have a conversation or take pictures of women dressed in clothing like that, but for one reason or other a smiled at her and said “Hello” and to my surprise she answered and came over to me and asked me the usual question, where I came from. So after “breaking the ice” we started to talk. I asked if she minded me asking questions and she did not, so I started. I asked why she wore the niqab, and she said it was her choice, and she reason she wore white scarf was simply that she loved bright white. I asked if she worked outside her home. She did, so I asked if she wore the same clothing at work. She picked out her cell phone and showed me a picture of her i niqab sitting behind a great desk, so she was obviously a manager or may be a medical doctor. The I asked if she took them off at home, and she said “Of course!” . By then we had been joined by another member of the group, a woman. So the Jordanian woman again found a picture on her cell phone and showed to her, I could not see it as I was a man. Apparently she was blonde! Then we asked what she thought about the Western tourists with deep-cut t-shirts and very short shorts, and her answer was: “That is the freedom we all have.” And she added: “My God does not look for how we dress, but how we are.”
By then we had to hurry to catch up we our group, so we thanked her and wished her all the best.
I really enjoy to get in touch with locals like that. It actually becomes more and more important, just as like better and better to take pictures of people.
I noticed some railroadtracks some places but I never saw a train. So I asked the guide and he told the story of the railroad in Jordan. The Ottomans built a north-south narrow-gauge railroad in the beginning of the 1900s. They promised it should be used for pilgrims so they should quickly come to Aqaba where theytook boats. But it turned out it was mainly used for military purposes.
So when the Arab uprising against the Ottomans took place, Lawrence of Arabia made them destroy the railroad. It was never repaired, but the tracks where still there some places. In the south it was operated by the mining companies to transport phosphate from the mines to be shipped out from Aqaba. Some “retired” carriages and a locomotive were parked at Wadi Rum station and we stopped to look at them.
South-east from Petra is a desert called Wadi Rum. I must admit that it is of course small compared to Sahara, but it was an interesting trip through part of it . It was a mix of mountains and sand.
We could see that parts of the steep mountains had a lighter colour sometimes with a geometric pattern. One with almost perfect concentric circles (left picture). Big rockshad fallen off relative recently and the gradually increasing cracks had mace the patterns.
We drove around in 4-wheel-drive cars. but it was also possible to ride camels.
We also saw ancient rock carvings showing camels, so Wadi Rum has obviously been part of a north-south trade route.
Petra can be divided in two parts, the Nabatean and the Roman. In total there are more than 600 carved facades and caves. The most elaborate were burial places, the bigger, the more high-ranked person was buried there. So the Treasury is actually a king’s grave.
The facade of the Treasury is mainly Greek-inspired but with some Egyptian elements.
The caves where people lived were without decorations.
To my big surprise I was told that more than 20 Beduin families still live in caves in Petra.
Here is a selection of facades from the Nabatean part of Petra.
The Roman part had of course an amphitheater.
and ruins of a temple
On my way back I rode a mule to the treasury and a horse and carriage through the Siq. It was unfortunately impossible to take pictures, but it was a suitable end to a visit i really liked. Petra is great!
Thse entrance to Petra is spectacular. It is a canyon 1,2 km long and has bends and turns. Seen from above it i hard to see it.
It is the canyon in the middle of the picture.
The entrance is “guarded” by two “nabatean” soldiers.
In places the canyon was very narrow and it was high up to the rim.
Along both sides of the canyon the Nabateans had chiseled out a chute for water: The Romans blocked them to conquer the city.
To my surprise we saw plants and trees in the canyon. They seem to grow on rocks so how they got water and nutrients is anybody’s guess.
Then suddenly the Treasury came into sight by the end of the Siq.
And that sight was actually worth the whole trip!
We stayed two nights in Madaba, one night on our way to Petra and one night on our way back to the airport. The main attraction is St. George-church, and in the church it is an old mosaic map over the Middle East. It was really hard to get good pictures ofiit inside the church. It was too big.
As I often do, I said hello to a mother with a boy. I did not expect an answer as she was dressed i a black dress covering hair, throat, ancles, wrists, and my experience with women dressed like that is that they refuse all contact with me. But she was different so we had a nice but short conversation. She even let me take her picture, and that is even more rare.