I am Anthony E. Savvides. This is my blog.

Reflections & adventures of a writer at heart, a journalist by trade and a waiter by night.

Posts Tagged ‘Petra

Forever a part of me. I have blisters and scars all over.

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Well, this week was quite a whirlwind; our group departed from SIT in Amman early on Monday morning and headed toward the south of Jordan. The first stop along the way was the Karak Castle, and it was beautiful. The week’s full agenda included stops at Karak Castle and Dana Biosphere Reserve, as well as Petra, Wadi Rum, and the port city of Aqaba on the Red Sea.

Personally, I feel like castles are similar to Roman ruins, in that they all sort of look exactly the same. I know, they’re not the same thing and each have their own history and story, and their surroundings may be different. But, to my naked eyes, everything unique about a castle is lost once you see another. After two or three, or more, castles all appear the same to me.

After Karak Castle, the bus drove us to the Dana Nature Reserve. The road was long, and the air was thick with humidity. Once we strolled all the way down the road along the mountainside, the camp with white, rounded tents was immediately in front of us. It was amazing- I have never seen so much greenery in Jordan. We went on a “hike,” as a group of too many 46. The hike was a disappointment to Matt and I, who were recalled back to the group as we continued down the path. Now, we’ll never know where it leads to.

Dana was exciting for me, since I had been almost everywhere else we have gone to just a year ago.

Last year, during this weeklong excursion, roughly one new site per day, I learned so much about myself. My way of thinking and living changed.  It was such a time of serenity and peace for me, and I was really able to think deeply about my life, and the people I know and those I love.  I never thought that I would be back here, in Jordan, so soon.  And I didn’t think that the natural solace and tranquility of these places would surround me again.

I sure am glad I was wrong, because Petra and Wadi Rum are incredible places, and I feel blessed to have experienced them both again.  Seeing something you love so much a second time, after some time apart, gives you a deeper appreciation for it.  That’s exactly how I feel about these places, and my time spent there with such good friends.

Well, everyone, that’s all I have for now. I’m on deadline today for my second story, so keep an eye out for that soon. And I’ll be writing more in-depth about my week in the south of Jordan, but for now there just isn’t time. I’ll leave you on the edge of your seat with anticipation for those posts, and some pictures.

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Written by AESavvides

June 9, 2012 at 6:18 am

Petra, I will never forget you-

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Note: This blog post was written on May 22.

A donkey who carries thousands of tourists through Petra's winding pathways each day.

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.

The view of the pinnacle of Petra from the peak, 2,000 steps and a mountainside away from the initial entrance into the city. This picture does no justice to the sight.

This view, from the path entering Petra, called to me. I wanted to so badly to travel the unkown, uncommercialized path, but was told I "wasn't allowed." And that is why I will come back to this place, on my own.

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.

This tree, growing out of the side of the mountain, has a total of three trunks, all of them intertwined with each other and the rock from which they emerge.

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.

This was my first glimpse of the ancient site, the Treasury, which was featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. What a sight to see.

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.

This structure, a mere drop in the ocean compared to all of Petra, is located along the initial pathway entering the ancient city. It is said to have been used as a resting place for those traveling into Petra, or as a checkpoint.

The size of these structures, as compared to a tourist taking a rest, is unbelievable. How did they build this place?

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.

Written by AESavvides

May 25, 2011 at 11:53 pm