Petra - World Wonder & Richness of Jordan

I don't think we've slept for more than 5 hours since arriving in Jordan. It's hard to fall asleep and we also have to wake up quite early. One of the reasons for that is that the buses here mostly operate during mornings and another reason is that we want to get to the sightseeing spots before the tourist masses. And the third reason is that the afternoons here are hellishly hot. 

So we had to wake up at 5 AM again to make it to the bus that departs at 6.30 AM. We're going to Petra. The owner of the hostel suggested we go buy the tickets for the bus the day before and since the demand for this particular bus route was high, they had to manage two more mini buses in addition to a big bus that was scheduled. We got lucky we got the tickets. 

Of course, the bus does not depart on time in the morning. We leave Amman almost an hour later, since we had to make a stop at the gas station and another bus stop. But these Jett buses are better and a bit more expensive than the regular public transit and gets to Petra without noticeable time waste. 

Petra - gem of the world and one of Jordan's biggest treasures which attracts thousands of people every day. There aren't to many people at around 6.30 AM, but it gets flooded with crowds at 8 AM. While we were heading out in the afternoon, it was hard to do that because of the crowds who are still just entering Petra. Every day Petra gets around 4 000 visitors. Since we spent two and a half days in Petra, we could not be in a rush and really enjoy the city. But I'll be honest - the heat is hard to deal with. It is very, very hot. 

We didn't enter the historical center of Petra on our first day. We roamed around so to say. We accidentally met a man named Ayman who happened to be a tour guide and he changed our plans for the night. We were planning to do nothing, but an hour after meeting him we were in his Jeep on an adventure to “Little Petra”. We traveled different types of roads, through places where there are no tourists. At the end of the adventure we were on top of a mountain watching the sunset, drinking a tea we made on a bonfire and listened to Ayman singing and playing an instrument. We each believe our own things, but when a stranger sings out each word wishing that God will bless us, eyes get watery. What a special and sincere evening.

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The historical center of Petra. A lot has been seen already on the internet, so that ruined the feeling of surprise a little, but it is beautiful anyway. The colors, color layers, structures made by nature and improved by humans - the sights were incredibly beautiful. The ceiling in the caves make out the most beautiful drawings.

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Bedouins who used to live here were transferred to a new village right here at the mountain foothill that was given to them by the country 20 years ago. But mostly everyone here works too. We met a couple of young men who don't have the opportunity to get an education, so all they get to do is sell cold drinks and offer place to hide from the sun to the tourists right there up in the canyon in the historical center of Petra. They listened to Bob Marley, smoked hookah and reassured us that nature and this views is all they need in life. They keep living just like their parents did. 

To be able to walk all throughout Petra you have to make sure you have enough water and energy. There are multiple trails in Petra, and a couple of them take you up the canyon of course. On our first day we hiked the first trail which was straight and long, and took us all the way to the monastery. To get up to the monastery we had to hike straight up for like 30 minutes. On the second day we hiked the side trails - it had sightseeing spots from different parts of the canyon top. I didn't even hike up the last one because I couldn't handle the sun, the heat and the sand storms. It felt like I was on a frying pan. And you could scrape off a whole layer of sand off my face. 

We went to the Petra by Night as well. This event was not included in the Jordan Pass price and cost us extra 17 JOD. Of course, it is visited by many people. The event would be very beautiful if the people would stay silent and didn't use flash lights, and didn't use flash while taking photos. There were candles lit everywhere, some locals sang a couple songs and played instruments. At the end rainbow colored lights lit up and beautifully illuminated the Petra Treasury. 

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Oh, and - Hello, my name is Agnese and I bawl my eyes out every time my heart breaks about the animals. I already mentioned in my Morocco blog about how they treat animals there and Jordan wasn't a lot different. On the streets, especially in the historical center of Petra, we saw a lot of stray cats and dogs. And on the first part of the first day we encountered a crying kitten whose eye was injured. I passed him and cried because I realize I can't help him. The internet did now show me an animal hospital nearby. My boyfriend, realizing I will not calm down, took out the hostel breakfast from the bag. We went back and fed the kitten some sort of cheese and sour cream. The kitten was shaking, purring and eating all of it. A camel got the carrots from my breakfast pack. A dog got a piece of sausage. Another dog got bread and hummus. The donkeys and horses loved the Latvian rye bread. I gave them everything I had. I wasn't even hungry because of the heat, the water was enough.

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The most popular service seen in the center of Petra is donkey and horse carriages. Wherever there is a straight road, they use horse carriages, but further down where there are the stairs, they use the backs of the donkeys and horses. Hundreds of animals get used to meet the needs and wants of the people. Donkeys sometimes carry more than 100 kg heavy men and women. Why do you, human, don't evaluate your strength and endurance before you go on a hike? If you can't withstand heat and the distances, maybe it's worth going to a different place in the world and look at the beauty of Petra on google image search? We saw a donkey carrying an old man who looked like jelly, carry down the hill with the help of a tour guide. 

Even though the animals have gotten used to the heat and working all the time, some of them looked really powerless but still carrying the smiling tourists who will get off the donkeys, go chill in their beds and then tell everyone about the amazing day they had. But our four-legged friends will carry the next group of tourists in their usual route. 

Unfortunately, I also witnessed a horse falling. The place where the horses run with the carriage is a little steep and slippery. Because the road is covered with asphalt and big, chiseled, slippery rocks. Even the pedestrians are having a hard time walking on that. What about the horses? None of them are getting customized horseshoes. It's like an ice rink for them, where, while running, you have to hold a carriage with three people in it.

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And the attitude of the locals - we've already experienced the lack of respect for animals in these countries. With grown up and the elders the situation is different, a little bit better - they treat animals with few touches and light smacks. But the kids and young people are quite cruel. We saw a young guy throwing rocks at a donkey he could not catch. My boyfriend whistled for the guy, he turned for a second and the donkey was already in the distance. I don't know what the kids are thinking, but they hit with cruelty, strength and anger. An animal for them is nothing. 

On our first day in Petra I took a donkey and gave him a couple hours of free time. Everyone who's riding one has an attendant who's making the donkey walk and making sure the rider does not fall off. But I got one without an attendant. It was just me and Hazus. And so we hiked besides each other. Hazus was pressed against my hip our whole journey. When the flies bothered him he wiped his nose in my shorts. I had never encountered a donkey this calm and sweet. It seemed like he enjoyed my company. A lot of people asked me why I wasn't riding on his back and I replied: “because he is my friend”. There was some local who thought about it for a second and said that that's very sweet of me. Of course, there were some who laughed about it too, because they do not care at all. After hanging out and having fun for 3 hours, we returned to the place where I got the donkey. And this is where my heart broke again, because Hazus put his head down, walked up to the fence and let himself get tied to it, he looked just like a robot. If you feel like puppy eyes are sad, look into the eyes of a donkey. I was happy to see the owner of the donkey place the next day, he remembered us and said that he had given Hazus a day off! I hope he didn't mix him with a different donkey, but any donkey's day off is a good news! 

It makes me calmer to see that overall the animals here look like they're kept clean and taken care of. At the entrance we see their farm where every once in a while an animal gets taken to, given water and switched, mostly those were horses though. The donkeys eat and drink in the morning and in the evening.

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Prices. The Prices in Petra and in the Wadi Musa village nearby were a little higher than in Amman. But we stumbled upon a restaurant with a buffet and beers - restaurant Zaman. Many vegetarian options. Prices were quite cheap - 5 JD for the buffet per person and 5 JD for 0.5 L of Petra beer. In other restaurants the prices usually start from 10/12 JD. We went there 3 days in a row. Only one night on our way to Petra we grabbed a falafel and french fries from a different place - 5 JD as well. In the center though, the prices were up to 2 or even 3 times higher for water and juices. On our last evening we spent 4 hours at the Zaman restaurant and at the end the owner said that the hookah, tea and water are on the house. Such hospitality!

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Water and toilets. Since the first nights we've spent in interesting, but quite cheap places, that means we were using common showers. And since we're constantly surrounded by desert, that means the water is not easily accessible. For 3 days the water is accessible from the central water pumps, but on the 4th day it's not. Then the hotels get huge water tank deliveries. It costs around 130 JD for the hotels. 

Since the toilets get used by many people and sometimes multiple at the same time - in the mornings and evenings - there is not enough water. At the beginning I really struggled because the sights, of course, were not pleasant. You take a breath and hold it. Every time you get into a toilet that you can flush, it's like a little party. In a lot of the places the toilet doors are like blinds. No sound isolation. When in one of the cafe's they showed me their toilets with blinds and a hole instead of a toilet, I saw it and went straight away. At that point it was a little too much out of my comfort zone that I couldn't overcome. 

Since we've gotten to Jordan, I have not been in a warm shower. I am in the shower, turning both of the faucets on and off and trying to understand which one is warmer. Both are cold. I guess it's good that you can cool off in a hot country like this, but it's tough to get in it! 

But everything is bearable if you have a view like this! We chose the Petra Capsule hostel and we got really lucky that we got placed in the corner capsule because the windows face both ways. It is not possible to close eyes, because I just want to watch the city lights even in the dark, they're more powerful than sleep.

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Taxi. Almost every third person here works as a taxi driver, even the people who do not have a license. The locals drive around in their free time to earn extra money. To get to our hostel from the historical center of Petra, you have to get up a steep hill for 30 minutes so a couple of times we used the taxi. But as soon as we got around understanding the distances here and how the cab drivers work, we always made a deal to get to our place for 1 JD. It is not so easy to trick us anymore. We know how much everything costs and how to get it for a cheaper price. 

We've experienced enough in Petra. Time to move on! We'll be going to a desert, where it will be as hot, as sandy and no service for our mobile phones. See you in four days!

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