After one more night in Amman we left for Petra. (We even watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade before arriving – doesn’t hold up) What an incredible place! Petra is one of the most stunning places I’ve ever seen. Towering cliffs, wind carved tunnels winding through canyons of stone and then you’re standing in awe of these awesomely amazing structures that have been chiselled into the actual mountains. Why and how they did this I do not know. But it’s a wonder of engineering and labour. I would hate to have been “hired” to do that work way back when (cough – slaves! – cough). Words cannot convey the beauty and awe inspiring wonder of this place. Here’s a few photos to inspire your awe…(I’ll post a few more photos later on the Facebook Ugly Shirt)
The only downside really was the proliferation of folks hawking cheap trinkets and offering horse, donkey and camel rides around the place. They are relentless. Why would I say yes to your donkey when I just said no to that guys donkey? It’s a very nice donkey, but it looks exactly like that your donkey. Your donkey does not inspire me to climb aboard. Fuck you and your donkey. No matter, we were saving our camel ride for the desert…
So after a couple of glorious days at Petra we made our way down to the desert outside of Wadi Rum. A three hour car ride and a stop so Swanson could barf (this time inside the cab – we weren’t fast enough – the driver was very understanding, citing his 8 children, many who may have vomited in this very car), we were straddling camels heading out into the wonderful desert for a 5 hour tour followed by a feast in a Bedouin camp and sleeping under the stars.
Now I’ve never even been on a horse, much less a camel. It’s a huge, humpy beast. I named mine Smeadly J. Richinton because he looked like a bit of a rich pompous ass with a silly name such as Smeadly J.Richinton. Swanson named his Groon for some reason. It took a spell to get into the rhythm of the animal’s gait but once you did it was it was pretty awesome. At least for a while. And the scenery was nothing short of spectacular. I felt like John Wayne in Lawrence of Arabia.
After cameling through the desert, taking the odd break to climb some dunes, checking out some cave carvings and have a bite to eat (no Swanson barfings) the sun started to go down. Our grizzled guide decided to pick the pace up a bit. The easy glide sauntering of the previous 4 hours or so were replaced by a quick pace which made it all but impossible to get remotely comfortable or to enjoy in the least. My lower extremities were being unduly assaulted in the saddle and it was all I could do not to have my testicles ripped from their moorings and cast into the cool sand. Only an hour more our guide informed us. I didn’t know if I could last that long. Swanson was fine, bobbing along beside me as I kept the screams of pain in my head as not to alarm him. It was then that I decided to re-name my ride Smeadly J. Ballcrusher, a.k.a. The Colon Pounder. Holy hell, the last hour was an exercise in torture. Trying to find any type of comfortable position was next to impossible. Just as it seemed I would have to get off and walk we came to a halt and a jeep appears out of nowhere. Salvation!
We got off the wretched beasts and into the warm confines of the vehicle where we were whisked off to camp complete with an amazing feast of many foods including chicken and veggies that had been cooked in a fire under the ground. After hanging out with some fellow travellers, playing some games and drinking some tea (sadly no beer) we were in bed by 8:30 piled under about 30 pounds of covers as it was so damn cold. It was so friggin’ chilly that my eyeballs were frozen. But the stars we could see in the desert were simply brilliant. So many. So bright. And stars that we don’t get to see in our neck of the sky. So amazing.
I managed to leave my hat in the tent. It has been with me for many years and one of my meagre goals on this adventure was to return with said chapeau. R.I.P. hat.