I woke early to open curtains in our room that framed a breathtaking vista of the Petra valley. Our hotel is built into the side of a sheer valley wall that overlooks mountains and hills not unlike the Bungle Bungles in Australia in form. Spectacular.
We drove the short journey to the visitors centre where we began our journey down a gentle decline into the ancient siq (canyon). Both inhospitable and beautiful, the width of the canyon is at times only a few metres. The cliff walls stretch hundreds of feet vertical, decorated with beautiful streaks of orange, red, brown and yellow in the rock face. All along the cliff walls are remains of the ancient Nabatean culture. In this canyon 35,000 people lived around the time of Christ, earning considerable wealth from their position on a major trade route. Their homes, temples, shops and tombs are carved out of the rock wall. The remains of their sophisticated water system (aqueducts and dams) indicate their ingenuity. An undoubted highlight of the 10km return walk is the so-called treasury building. Rising 42 metres, this elaborate tomb was made famous as the scene of the final minutes of the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
This whole site was 'lost' for centuries and still has major archaelogical excavations to be undertaken over coming decades. I will love visiting sometime in the future to see what else is uncovered. Although our visit to Petra had no biblical connection, this was yet another cultural and historical highlight of my journey.
After lunch we traveled the 3.5 hours north back to Amman. We traveled through desolate, desert country - driving past villages where boys played soccer in the sand. I could not help but refect that it was on land like this just to the west that the children of Israel journeyed on the way to the promised land. I now know just how promising it was.
Our final night in Amman was marked by a celebration dinner. Enourmous amounts of food was paraded before us as laughter filled the tables. A great way to finish the journey.
The last 10 days have been incredible. I am typing this update on my phone as I sit in the transit lounge at Dubai airport. So many images fill my mind. In the next few days I will write a final Israel post and offer the Big things I take away from my trip.