These past few weeks have been a true roller coaster of events, emotions, unfortunate occurrences, and amazing and unforgettable excursions. But for now I will talk about two high points of the past couple weeks, which are the two excursions I went on with my group. The first one was to Ghor, a farming community by the Dead Sea that has historically struggled with discrimination, poverty, and unemployment. We met with an organization there called Zikra, which focuses on cultural exchange (rather than charity) to achieve social development. They emphasize the wealth of talent of the people of Ghor. We picked tomatoes with them, then learned how to make various crafts and helped cook lunch. We also ate with them, drank tea, and learned how to “dabke,” which is an Arab folk dance common in Jordan.
Last weekend we traveled a couple hours past the Dead Sea and Ghor to the south-west part of Jordan, where Petra is located. The site was the capital city of the Nebataeans, built around 300 BC. As you enter the area, you walk for about a mile through a narrow gorge called “The Siq,” which was split open by earthquakes in the region. The rock walls are a beautiful combination of colors which look slightly different depending on the time of day. Along the way we saw horses, donkeys, and camels passing us from both directions. As we approached the end of the passage, we caught a glimpse of Petra’s most famous and elaborate structure — the treasury. It’s actually built in the rock face, and archeologists have determined that it was built from top to bottom; the Nebataeans engineered and built the structure by carving out the rock section by section until they reached the ground. The Siq opened up to a stunning view of this structure.
But the sights didn’t end there. We continued past the treasury to see more structures, mostly tombs, as well as caves.
From there we took a 40 minute hike up the mountain (almost 1,000 steps), passing a dozen little shops selling touristy trinkets, until we finally reached an absolutely breathtaking view that overlooks Jordan and Israel/Palestine. I cannot even begin to describe how beautiful and amazing it was up there, and the pictures do not do it justice. (But look at them anyway, because it took forever to edit them all.)
Both Ghor and Petra were great places to go to escape city life, which is something I think I had been needing. Amman is wonderful in its own ways, but for someone not used to living in a large city for so long, leaving it felt like a relief. It was hard to get on the bus and head back, especially from Petra. I could have spent hours more at the top of that mountain. But for now, it’s back to life in Amman, school, and trying not to behave like a tourist.
But I mean, being a tourist is okay sometimes, especially if it means you now have a selfie with a camel…