Our jeep tour the next morning was a bit delayed due to the very rare appearance of rain. But, because of the moisture in the air, we woke up to the most stunning scenery. It looked like it had snowed on the tops of the hills and huge swaths of fog surrounded the mountains. Literally other-worldly. I have seriously never seen a place like this. We waited out the rain and then got started. They put you in the back of a pick-up truck, where there are two rigged and cushioned benches (soaked from the rain the night before) to sit on for the ride. Our tour was 3 hours long and because it was quite chilly, we all wore jackets. Thank goodness Mom packed about 4 cold-weather layers, because I’m pretty sure every one of the kids donned them by the time we were done here. ;)
Does looking at camels in the desert ever get old? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.
We also made a quick stop here, where our guide pointed out, a scene from “The Martian” was filmed. We took some time to let each of the kids recreate this picture from the movie, below.
Ha! Fun memory for all of us. Across from us was another place we recognized from the movie. This valley below. Feeling like we spent actual time on the set as well as Mars today.
Our next stop was in this little area between the rocks where the famous petroglyphs are. These drawings of antelopes and humans date back to the 8th century BC and are watched over carefully by the several hundred Bedouin that still live and thrive in the Wadi Rum.
This place! Our guide last year said he knows this vast desert like the back of his hand. It’s his home and he knows where all of the rooms are. You totally get this feeling when a local shows you around because there are no maps, no roads, only places that they’ve seen a million times because they live here.
We stopped at this natural rock arch that was surrounded by tourists taking pictures of it from below (safely on the ground). We decided we needed another vantage point and scaled the sketchy rock path up to the top so we could walk across the arch together. We all made it up and then Brian hurried back down to catch us in action. Such an awesome memory of being high above and looking all around- and what made it more fun is that all of the tourists below, once they saw “little” girls braving the arch, decided they might as well give it a shot. So proud of these girls that aren’t afraid of a little adrenaline!
Made it to the rock shaped like a mushroom and got to pet some free-roaming camels just across the way. We also went to a canyon where we could shout whatever we wanted and hear it echo a million times off of the rock formations. We made it back home after our 3+ hour tour through the Wadi Rum, not much worse for the wear for being bounced around in the cold for hours :). We packed up our stuff and headed to our next stop: PETRA!!
Petra was the capital of the ancient Nabatean kingdom in as early as the 4th century BC. Their descendants still live here as bedouins and you can see their tents on the ridges high above the ancient buildings. They are the only people allowed to settle and sell wares inside of Petra so you’ll hear and see a lot of that going on- from donkey and camel rides to jewelry, food, decor and all other kinds of souvenirs. When you first arrive at Petra and buy a ticket to enter, you’ll walk for about 30 minutes through peaceful and narrow canyons. It’s a sort of get-ready-for-what-you-will-see-soon sort of atmosphere and then all of a sudden, the majestic Treasury emerges. It is truly wonderful, as in one of the wonders of the world…and rightly so. The intricate details that have been carved out of red rock throughout Petra are unbelievable in their design, detail and scope.
After spending time exploring near the start of Petra, we walked further in to the theater, ancient tombs, temples and homes before deciding to hire donkeys for each of us to get us to the Monastery quickly. We knew we had to be back in a few hours to catch our flight from Eilat, so we had to save time where we could and this was worth it! Riding the donkeys up the steep and slippery steps for about 30 minutes was equal parts nerve-wracking and thrilling. Those donkeys ruled the path! They did not wait for anyone to step aside or go faster- they would just mow right on through whatever was standing in their way. Yes, thats the nerve-wracking part!
Side note: Lauren has been totally obsessed with gymnastics and the Olympics lately. She’s watched hours of footage and flips, jumps and cartwheels all over the place all day long. She’s taken to doing handstands whenever she can as well. See above for reference ;)
The Monastery is different, but no less impressive than the Treasury. Not as many people venture this far in to Petra (its about a 2 hour hike from the start), which makes the sight of it that much more valuable. We got off our donkeys and walked for the last few minutes up to it.
The girls LOVED exploring all of the nooks and crannies and talking about what they thought each room was used for as well as looking for interesting shapes in the colorful walls.
Overlooking the Monastery and the infamous port-a-potty (story below).
I hope these girls remember what it felt like to be in this magical place and the effort that you take to see something as special and unique as this. And, then, how that effort is totally worth it.
On the hike down are the most incredible views…
Backing up a bit to tell a story I want to remember: Once we reached the Monastery, the girls left to explore further with Brian and I sat down on a bench by a little cafe. I felt the beginnings of a migraine and wanted to relax and take it easy. I’m glad I had already seen the Monastery because I didn’t get much out of it today as my migraine got worse and worse. I had stupidly forgotten not to bring any pain medicine with me and didn’t have my wallet either (not that you could buy pain meds up there, or even a Diet Coke to wash it down with!). I listened to the tourists all around me for anyone that spoke English and who then, I would have explained my headache and asked if they had any medicine. I was desperate and my pain had reached head-exploding levels at this point. If not treated quickly, I get nauseous and throw up when migraines hit and I began to feel that coming on as well. I slowly stumbled up the hill and around the back of the cafe to the only toilet around, a port-a-potty. It was being cared for by a bedouin woman who was charging 1 Jordanian Dinar for entry (equal to 2 USD). I had nothing and so I sat down in the sand by the toilet and I could feel the color draining from my face and the sweat pouring as the urge to vomit was coming on strong. I proceeded to throw up all over right in front of her (poor woman!) and she, speaking zero English, sweetly handed me some toilet paper. I felt a little better after that and returned to my bench, where a few minutes later, Brian and the girls returned. We started the hike out and about halfway down, we again hired the donkeys to take us all the way to the Treasury (no way I would have made it on my own because my energy was totally zapped). They dropped us off and we walked the rest of the way out- about 45 minutes- to the ticket gate, where I lost my stomach all over again. I got some medicine at a local pharmacy and passed out for the first part of the ride back to Aqaba, where we would return our car and taxi to Eilat for our flight home. Brian had to race back to make our flight on time and we literally made it through our car return, passport control in Jordan, then entry to Israel (no quick feat) and then to the airport in the nick of time. It was sort of amazing the way the timing worked out so perfectly. Despite a rough time for me in Petra, the trip to Jordan was nothing short of amazing. We would all highly recommend coming here!