Star Date:  September 2015
Jordan - Petra and Aqaba 


Hello Dear Family & Friends!



"Keef Haa'lak?   Jeyid."
(How are you? Good. Arabic)

(I love you! Arabic.)



"Throw away your map.  Follow your heart."
(Bedouin along the road of whom we asked directions.)



We stood in awe.  Petra - the Lost City, lost to all but local Bedouin for centuries.  One of the most breathtaking sights on earth; walking out of the narrow 'siq' canyon and gazing on the massive Treasury.  Pinch me.  Am I really here?  Senses come alive, emotions soar.  History floods my mind, images of ancient times swirl past.  I glance behind me, expecting Indiana Jones, to be riding full gallop down the canyon following his "Last Crusade".  This is adventure incarnate.

This famous city of antiquity vanished from the outside western world from the 14th century.  It was only rediscovered in 1812 by a Swiss explorer, Johann Burkhardt, who tricked his way into this fiercely guarded secret site, hidden in the crescent canyon, by pretending to be an Arab from India, wishing to make a sacrifice at the Tomb of Prophet Aaron.

This vast and unique city was easily hidden by simply blocking the narrow entrance to The Siq.  The industrious Arab civilization, the Nabataeans, carved their city into the sheer rock walls inside the canyon, more than 2000 years ago.  It quickly became an important junction for the camel caravans carrying silk, spices and other valued treasures; linking China, India, and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome.  The Nabateans charged fees for free passage through their territory and soon became admired for their refined cultures, architecture, and ingenious complex of dams and water channels.  Springs inside the canyon provided an oasis to almost 20,000 tent dwelling residents, with extra water being piped in through aqueducts.  Living the good life they began to expand and become powerful - too powerful for the Romans liking. 

Finally in 106AD the Romans took Petra, creating the province of Arabia Petraea.  They set about imposing the usual plan: a colonnaded street, baths, and so on.  In the 3rd century the region was reorganized into the province of Palaestrina Tertia, with Petra as the capital.  During the Byzantine period some Nabataean buildings were turned into churches.  Earthquakes ruined much of the city in 550AD and, by the time of the Muslim invasion in the 7th century, Petra was fast passing into obscurity. The only activity in the next 500 years was in the 12th century when the Crusaders moved in briefly and built two forts.

Sometimes it is about the journey!  One of the most stunning hikes in the world takes you through the Siq, a natural rock formation, to Wadi Musa.  The canyon or Siq walls stand between 91–182 meters (299–597 ft) in height, at times narrowing to only 12 feet wide; straight up on either side.

The Siq was used as the grand caravan entrance into Petra.  It still vibrates with the footfalls of those before us. Walking the 2km through the canyon, coming face to face with Petra is an unforgettable experience.  Camels with colorful blankets laze and young Bedouin camel drivers, looking like Johnny Depp as a pirate, add ambiance.  We walked up and down exploring the many tombs, temples, caves and ruins.  Hiking a back trail we were called over to a small fire to join some Bedouin ladies for a cup of tea.  I bought an old necklace of Bedouin silver and coral from them, a necklace filled with memories of times past, in a land far away. 

Silence.  The peaceful, joyful tranquility of being all and nothing at the same time.  Herein lurks creation, infinity. The soul of the desert is silence.  Out here life and death hang by a thread.  All answers lie in the silence, if only we are able to quiet our chattering minds long enough to hear.  Like sitting gazing into a campfire, the silence is mesmerizing.  We sat in the shade of a hidden Bedouin cave staring into the Wadi, engulfed in the 'nothiness.'  Thoughts quickly faded as we became one with the desert.  Slowly the desert came to life, drawing us in.  A hawk circled overhead, surrounded by vivid blue sky and wispy horsetail clouds.  The sun shone with a brilliance that warned of danger even death and sent all little sand creatures under cover.  At least 20 different sets of footprints in the fine reddish sand spoke of the busy nocturnal activities of now hidden resident snakes, scorpions, mice, lizards, jackals and birds.  Only the hardiest iridescent starlings braved the midday 'Shiva' sun, quickly returning to the thorny, hardy bushes where they peeked out at the harsh landscape called home. Some vegetation survives for months without water, surviving only on the morning dew.  A few hardy white flowers spoke of better times, with a passing rain.  A lone camel wandered by unaffected by strangers in his turf.  Without humps we were thirsty and looking for a drink of water.  We moved on, glad that the sun was setting behind the tallest peaks.  Relief from the sun yet gratitude for the experience in the Lost City.

Jordan’s far south belongs to the desert and the Bedouin. At the meeting point of the Rift Valley, the Negev Desert, the Sinai Peninsula and the Hejaz region of Arabia, it has been crisscrossed for centuries by trade and pilgrimage routes.  Further on we gazed on the contrast of dry red desert against the indigo colored waters off shore .  This is Aqabar.

This port has been a valued prize over the centuries with warriors such as Richard the Lion hearted and in this century T.E. Lawrence or Lawrence of Arabia leading the Arab forces for a defeat of the Turks in the most dramatic victory of the Arab Revolt. 

During WW I, Lawrence of Arabia started his campaign for Aqabar by sneaking through the desert from the back side of Wadi Rum; which was totally un-defended because the Turks  really thought that no one would be bold or crazy enough to cross the ruthless desert.  Barely making it across alive, at the end of their water, they regrouped and joined forces with the Hottentot Bedouins for their surprise attack on the port.  Never underestimate perseverance.  It accomplishes what sheer logic prevents.

And so it goes.........................................Next crossing the Red Sea into Mysterious Egypt!  Until then let's remember to throw away our maps once in a while and follow our hearts! You never know what you will discover!  The journey is worth it.  Take care and Keep in Touch!




Love, Light & Laughter, 

xoxoox  Nancy & Joseph



Travel notes:


1 US Dollar equals 0.71 Jordanian dollars

Wadi Mousa/town near Petra:
Elgee Hotel on main drag just down from the main round about - right side   Try room #305 - great panoramic view of town, Petra and mountains at sunset   No English spoken.  No wifi.  15jd

Mussa Spring Hotel - up the hill from Petra, next to Ain Mousa (1jd to center) or they give free pickup and drop off to bus and Petra gate  We booked with Agoda for a discount or 15-20jd per 3 bed room  #403 is quiet, in the back, with 2 windows   Phone # 00962 03 2156310   #00962777462375  Very clean, friendly, very helpful English speaking staff, can help call the bus (as can any hotel in Wadi Musa) to pick you up on the way to Wadi Rum.  7jd to Wadi Rum - leaves 6 am.  Email:

A trip to Wadi Mousa or Little Petra is a fun way to spend the afternoon.  No charge, few tourists, it is a quiet look at life back in a quiet Wadi of Jordan.  Hire a taxi to wait for 1 hour - longer costs more. (10jd)

Al Wu Ira - castle - bridge - stop here to see the ruins and view the scary bridge crossing a high gorge.
Siq Al Barid - Little Petra

Tasty food in Jordan:
mousakal - eggplant - potatoes & tomatoes sautéed together
motabbal - babaganouch - roasted eggplant paste
tabbouleh - couscus - lemon, tomatoes, cucumbers
humus - smashed garbanzo beans, oil and lemon
falafel: smashed garbanzo beans, cilantro, cumin deep fried until the little balls are crispy 

The hotel next to the Petra Hotel or Jerusalem Hotel on Zahran St.  Three not so good cheapies in a row - but this one is better.  Hard to describe.  Go in the doorway to the Petra Hotel.  To the right is a small reception desk.  On the 3-4-5 floors, some great balconies and views.  5th floor is quieter.  Only $10 a night. 
(Maybe this is the Aqaba Bazar: Phone# 201 3857)

Chinese Restaurant, Jan Tourist: on Acabar St - big red sign - 2nd floor -   Fast internet - good food.  Chinese restaurant.  Food cooked by Philipina workers - great food, cooked fresh.




Flew in to Amman and left over the Red Sea to Egypt.
















Sometimes it is about the journey!  One of the most stunning hikes
 in the world takes you through the Siq, a natural rock
to Wadi Musa.


We stood in awe.  Petra - the Lost City, lost to all but local
Bedouin for centuries.  The infamous 'Treasury', carved
into solid rock.


What's the desert without camels?


This was a particularly hospitable fellow.


A simple sign to the entrance to the Siq.


Former dwellings or markets.


Hiking a back trail we were called over to a small fire to join some
 Bedouin ladies for a cup of tea.


 Note the stunning colors making up the sandstone.


Howdy partner.


This cool dude was thinking he was the cat's meow until
a female decided to adjust his "look".   Joseph says it's
the plight of men on earth. 


A curious Nubian goat.


 A little desert hedgehog.


We heard a commotion about noon and witnessed a sort
of 'changing of the guards', old Roman style.


A handsome young Desert Patrolman keeping an
eye on things.


A mysterious looking camel driver


Byzantine mosaics uncovered on the floor of the church ruins.


'Pirate of the Caribbean' looking camel driver.  We talked with this
young man for about an hour while we ate our picnic of falafel
rolls. He said he had had a young French woman living with him
up in his cave for 6 weeks.  We were invited up for tea.


Camels doing what they do best, snoozing.


Hanging out with Indiana Jones.


The canyon or Siq walls stand between 91–182 meters (299–597 ft) in
height, at times narrowing to only 12 feet wide; straight up
 on either side
.   Stunning hike.


Linkin, Blinkin, and Nod.


A wild Bedouin man in the Oasis.


Hardy thistle.


Little Petra.


No charge, few tourists, Little Petra, is a look into
life back in a quiet Wadi of Jordan.


Again we were invited in for Beduion tea.


Magical canyon.


Traces of Roman paintings on the ceiling of a coffee house,
set up for merchants of camel caravans in the wadi.


The port of Aqabar.  That is Israel across the bay.


Hiding in the shade of the intense mid day sun.


As men frolic in the Red Sea in swim trunks, the women
swelter in the 100 F. shade in burkas.


A lively port town, Aqabar is the seaside playground for
 Jordanians.  At night groups of friends or family walk
the market streets buying fresh roasted nuts, coffee,
underwear, stuffed camels, handmade jewelry,
pots and pans, falafels, and ice cream.






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