Up and out by 08:00. Only two of us decided to go back to Petra and see Al-Madbah (High Place of Sacrifice). Our guide told us that the most adventurous groups were the Israelis and French. He said Aussies and Kiwis were lazy. He said that he’s had groups of Israelis over 80yrs old walking and walking for days and doing really intense desert trips. The French visit Petra usually for four days to climbs around the whole site. Shame on us then, huh??!!!
Al-Madbah is basically above and behind the Treasury and affords some glorious views (and a fair few alters if you’re into that sort of thing!). From here you can look down on the whole site and the people walking around look like those little computerised images you see in some modern movies. We then saw the Lion Monument where water was drained through a carved lion’s mouth into a huge cistern. Near here was also The Soldier’s Tomb (named after the Roman soldier carved on the front) and the Garden Trilinium opposite. We next passed a section of old Nabatean wall (though now it is just rubble on the ground). They really did take their wall building seriously in the “olden days”. This one used to be about 6m wide. After a couple of hours we were back where we started and made our way back to the hotel ready for the journey to Wadi Rum. Our driver has taken a shine to Norbert. He’s been showered with gifts, been brushed so he looks like new and then had aftershave sprayed all over him. Hmmmmm…not sure about the aftershave. Not the nicest one I’ve ever smelt and now Norbert’s stunk everything out with him. He maybe receiving a wash sooner rather than later. Wadi Rum is around 130km from Petra along the Desert Highway, passing some really cool hotels that have been built out of the ruins of really old Bedouin villages. Must try one of these out one day. This is Lawrence of Arabia and Bedouin country. Dry and harsh and nothing but spectacular. The silence is deafening though having said that, in the few years since I’ve been here, the traffic inside the reserve has increased considerably. Perhaps more and more tourist have found this far-off place or perhaps it’s just that we haven’t ventured that far in from the village of Rum. Although desolate looking today, the Wadi Rum (once called Iram) used to have a fair few inhabitants and even once entertained vineyards, pine trees and olive groves. It’s mostly famous though as the backdrop to TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) and The Arab Revolt in 1917.
After a look at The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (named after Lawrence’s book) at the nice and neat little visitor’s centre it was up the road to the village of Rum to find some camels for an almost 3hr trek into the wadi to our Bedouin camp. Camels are the best. Nothing seems to bother them. I think that they may be better in the head than horses. The regular rocking motion and the soft pad of feet in the otherwise utter silence of the wadi is quite meditative. I do like camels!
The Bedouin camp was…well…interesting. Don’t get me wrong, it was very nice, but being built on besa block foundations and with wooden internal walls, I’m not sure how much of a Bedouin camp it could be classified as. There also seems to be one of these tourist “camps” hidden behind every second rock! Never mind. It’s just brilliant to be back out here in the silent vastness, walking barefoot in the sand and along the rocks and watching the sunset. Sigh.