Petra, I will never forget you-
Note: This blog post was written on May 22.
Some people – tourists, to be exact – will walk through life, fingers attached to a camera with a fanny pack permanently around their waist. I try to approach life and my travels differently. Ever since my mother’s camera was stolen out of our luggage on a family trip many years ago, I have felt that pictures, videos, cameras – all these things can come and go. What will always remain are the memories.
On May 19, I along with my peers journeyed 2 hours south of Amman to Petra on our big, yellow Shariyah bus. Petra, an archeological and historic city which dates back to . The historical site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was introduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. It was described as “a rose-red city half as old as time” and was featured in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which filmed on site in .
Evidence suggests that settlements had begun in and around Petra in the eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (1550-1292 BC.) It is listed in Egyptian campaign accounts and the Amarna letters as Pel, Sela or Seir. The city was built on the slopes of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah(Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.
Petra was chosen by the BBC as one of “the 40 places you have to see before you die” and after visiting the ancient city, I completely and wholeheartedly agree. The hike was exhausting, the rocks and sand blistering hot, the sun blinding, but the sight unforgettable. Never before have I felt so accomplished as I did today, when I hiked up nearly 2,000 steps to the site highlight, the monastery. It was carved into a mountainside by the ancient inhabitants and controlled by various empires throughout history. The city itself, as a whole, was largely guarded against any attacks by the mountains surrounding it. The initial entrance into Petra is a long and winding dirt, cobblestone road through the mountains, which tower over the entranceway and seem to reach the clouds. Trees grow, distorted, out of the mountainside.
These images, which will be with me forever, should be seen by all. I was lucky enough to see these things at 21, but I noticed that many of the tourists were much older, most over the age of 50. How am I so fortunate to see such sights and wonders at such a young age? And at such an early stage in my world travels and my journalistic career? I guess I can thank Northeastern University for the opportunity. And, of course, my own intuition. Something told me, way back in November when I applied, that this was a trip not to be missed.
After reaching the top of the site, and viewing what seemed like all of Jordan from the peak, I sat with my peers Geoff Edgers, Rob Sansone, Erin, Ally, Jessica and Michele, we began the descent down the steps.
The sun was hotter on the return to modern civilization. The local Jordanians, who have set up tents to sell merchandise, jewelry, and other memorabilia, were relentless in their attempts to sell us their products. Some of us succumbed to their taunts and hopeful eyes. I, myself, purchased a hand-carved camel and a stone turtle. I will never forget this day, and the pople with whom this adventure was shared. I love the J19. Petra, I will never forget you.