“What did you do last week?”
“Oh you know, study Arabic, see one the 7 wonders of the world…how’s home?”
That’s how I casually played off going to Petra last week. We have officially passed the midway point of our semester abroad. It’s odd to realize that I’ve been living in Amman for two months. Yet with the halfway point here, both midterms and the Southern Excursion have arrived. Last week, we went on the Southern Excursion which included an overnight stay in Wadi Rum and a day trip to Petra. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had in Jordan
In Wadi Rum, we went on a two-hour Jeep tour through the desert. I never thought a desert could be beautiful, but Wadi Rum proved me wrong. At the same time, it’s hard not to observe the poverty. Often during our drive to Wadi Rum, our tour guide would mention where we were passing through at the moment. To me, it wouldn’t seem like a town, but just a few tourist shops. Similarly in Wadi Rum, there’s mainly only tourist cams. Deeper into the desert, we saw numerous people with extremely minimal living conditions. It’s striking how going to the desert is what reminds me of the disparity between Jordanians. Certainly we’ve seen the wealth differences in Amman, but outside the city the poverty is much more visible.
We drove around for hours taking constant photos of rock formations and the solo tire tracks of our Jeep. At last we settled at one place to enjoy tea and watch the sunset behind the rocks. This photo below is of the Wadi Rum sunset.
The next day we started the commute to Petra. Having seen the iconic photo of Petra on every Jordanian tourist book, I thought I knew what to expect. I was completely wrong. The city is so much more vast and nuanced than I could have imagined. Our guide walked us through the narrow rock formations and gave us details about every small carving, such as who made it and its meaning. We spent so long weaving through rock formations that I was quite surprised when the trail suddenly expanded to show the Treasury. Arash, our guide, was able to give us numerous details about the building. For example, it was actually carved from the stone itself. The foresight and immense skill required for carving these structures makes the city all the more impressive.
However, my favorite part of the excursion was the long hike to the Monastery. In a completely separate part of the city from the Treasury, there is a wide uphill trail leading to the Monastery, much less famous ruin. What’s amazing about the Monastery is how it was carved similar to the Treasury, despite its isolated location. The hike up the path takes about 20 minutes and is approximately 800 steps. It’s impressive to imagine the Nabataeans using this path to transport their labor and tools to carve out the Monastery.
When my friend and I reached the top of the path, it felt deserted compared to the Treasury. There was nearly no one around. The complete lack of people and it’s distance from the rest of the city, make the Monastery feel like a hidden gem in giant tourist attraction.Additionally, the views from the Monastery stretched out forever above the city and rock formations. It was an absolutely amazing sight and so peaceful. I truly loved this excursion. Wadi Rum and Petra are absolute must see visits for anyone travelling to Jordan.