Thursday, December 3, 2009
The noise! OMG the noise. Cars honking and beeping and wotnots. Such a cacophany! It took a few hours to determine that that's how drivers talk to each other. The honking and beeping is a language - a wierdo car horn syntax of speech. Amman is all about communication! By car horn or by human mouth. People are quite friendly! Every one is willing to chat with you. You can see it in their eyes. They just want to talk and be friendly and it's the most natural thing in the world to do so. Granted - as I'm on the short cute side (wink.wink.nudge.nudge.) most of the chatting was done by men. LOL Did my ego wonders. But it's not like being chatted up by wankers. None of the men have any intention of doing or going beyond paying compliments and smiling. It's all in good natured fun! All they expect back is a smile. It's effusive good will. Pretty shocking and needed considering where I currently reside (uae). Every where I went I was paid a compliment. Every where I went I was told that ".. I have a cousin/brother/friend in New York. I like America!"... "You are very beautiful." LOL Such genuine interest. I didn't come across not one person that had a mal intent or bad bone in their body.
I spent my first day just walking around Amman. I had booked a car to take me to the Dead Sea. Unfortunately, the person I booked it with didn't forward the message to the worker in the hostel. So no car. So off I went. In search of....... what ever I could find. I made a mental note of where the hotel was
The world is indeed small!! For Day Two of my amazing adventure I set my alarm for 0730am. More fool me! Apparently Jordan is a Muslim country. The first call to prayer is at 0450 am. That right. Stupid o'clock. four - fifty aye em! It is quite loud would be an understatement. I do honestly believe a little man with a bull horn hovered the three floors up outside my window and with a cheeky grin started his incessant caterwauling thru said bull horn right into my window. Woke me up out of a dead sleep! I"m like WTF!!!! Eyes wide. Ready to karate chop something or someone. LOL This went on for about a half hour with the height of his screeching at 0525. Not fun. Not fun. Needless to say when the alarm did go off, I promptly hit the snooze button. I made it out the hotel closer to 8am. My mission - Petra!
Groovy taxi dude found me a bus to Petra. And at the whopping cost of 5 jordanian dollars (about $7) I was on my way for a ... three hour tour... a three hour tour! LOL Three hours thru the Jordanian desert. Not sure what it's called. But I was on a bus that held about 20 people. Totally full. Sitting next to a dude I'd swear was from the Lower East Side (ok, so he was really from Turkey but I swear, he sounded like a frigging New Yorker! I think he said he studied in NYC for a bit - but he oozed New York City! LOL with a splash of el Lay! Rodeo Drive!) Any ways - we became fast friends. Nothing to it. We were squished together for 3 hours. We arrive at the Petra bus station. New Petra. As there is a "modern" town called Petra. It even has a Crown Plaza hotel and a Marriot! The bus station is just a strip of concrete with a shelter and occasionally a bus! Meet a taxi driver who will drive us to Petra for 10 Jordanian Dinars. (deenarz not die-ners) Any ways - my new buddy and a group of women hop into a van to get to their hostel. No one had booked anything, it was just the hostel sends a van to the bus station and hopes someone needs a room. Good Business. I schlep off with them as me and my seat mate, Ali, decide to do Petra (Old Petra) together. We get to the hostel and it has an amazing view of New Petra and the mountains hiding Old Petra. Drink more tea (this place makes England look lacking in the tea department). The hostel dude says he'll drive the lot of us to Petra (Old Petra) for 3 JD. yeah.... six people in a van to old petra for 3JD TOTAL!!! How is that for service?! We pile into the van and off we go!
Old Petra is an archaeological site. National Heritage some would point out. It's 21 JD for a one day visitor pass. 26 for a 2 day. Trust me when I say you will need more than one day to see this. You walk down a gravel road surrounded by boulders and notice interesting caves and caverns. This is only eye candy. At the bottom you decent a steeper path that leads between two massively large rocks/boulders/mountains. LOL It's the main road into Old Petra. Wide enough for a chariot. Tall enough for a freaking giant! It would be like walking between the Twin Towers had they been ten city blocks long instead on single buildings. Just massive. Along the way you have alcoves - like pit stops or sign posts. Things carved in the rock that look like where lanterns would sit to light the way. After about 20 minutes you see it. Peeking thru the slit between the mountain. Your eyes get wide because you recognize it. Standing before you at 43 meters high. There it is!!!! The Treasury from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade! Gobsmacking eye candy!! It's huge. It's immense. It's totally gorgeous!!! Breathtaking!!! You just stand there mesmerized by this building. It's carved into the face of a mountain. You can't go inside it, but you can peek in to see the three chambers on the ground floor. You do have to step over the recent excavation. They found a substructure to it a few years back. You can look down the grating onto another door and entrance that is currently underground. The rocks and mountains all have this beautiful reddy, orangey, golden colour. It's like Peter Max went in with his paints and colours and just went to town! I tore myself away from the initial vision and proceeded down to the right of the Treasury. I wandered aimlessly thru the olden city of Petra for three hours. It's big. Really big. Quite big. yeah. I'm thinking at it's height, the town supported like thousands of people big. LOL Every where you look there is a building carved into a mountainside. Not just one building here or there, but obvious city planning. The guide says that the buildings are tombs or temples or the like. Supposition really. I've no doubt that Petra had temples and tombs for dignitaries. But the town was a major trading force. The people who carved this place over 2200 years ago ruled a wide swath of properties. LOL These dudes were the dudes in charge! (much to Rome's ire). They made money hand over fist in the trading industry and Petra was on the trade route. Nothing got bought or sold if it didn't go thru Petra first. LOL I did find yet another Roman style outdoor theatre. They are every where! LOL Found what they call the Colonaid - like a promonade. Cobblestone streets. Wide enough for two chariots! LOL By this time the sun was setting. Now that's a sight. Being cognizant of the sun setting while you are scampering around two thousand year old buildings. Watching as you cast a shadow across a wall or pillar that's had this same scene repeated hundreds of times thousands of years ago.
Every thing took on a reddish hue as the sun bounced off the surrounding mountains. It was surreal. Your place in the universe is but a small alcove on the unfashionable western spiral end. It's quite humbling. Then reality smacks you in the head like a fish when you realize you now have to walk all the way back and the sun is setting and you really really hope you can make it thru the canyon before the sun is completely gone as you neglected to bring a torch. . . No worries. I made it out of old petra back into new petra with a good fifteen minutes of daylight left. I caught a taxi and made for the bus station. My taxi driver asked me why I was going to the bus station. To catch a bus of course. Back to Amman. Silly muppet. Well, he didn't actually call me a silly muppet. I don't think they have a Jordanian saying for that. But basically, he told me the bus station is empty as no more busses leave for Amman. It's only half four! Last bus out was well over an hour ago. But if I wanted to wait a bit, he could drive me to Amman for 50 JD. My eyes got pretty big and I stuck out my bottom lip... But I want to go back now. He said he's swing by and pick up his brother - and we'd go back now. So we swing by his place to pick up his brother. He gets out of the car, brother gets in the car, swings around to look at me... Hey, he says. I know you!
I'm already missing Amman.