This architecturally spectacular, magical place is clouded with constant and unbearable harassment of children, Bedouins and even camels to come to ask, ask and ask
At 7 in the morning I left the Hostel of Madaba, unable to say goodbye to Mostafa, since he had gone to buy freshly made bread for the guest’s breakfast. I took a taxi to the bus station for a Jordanian dinar and there began the day’s adventure. I asked what bus should I take to get to South Station in order to take a minibus from Amman to Wadi Musa (Petra). No one spoke English, and they did not understand when I wrote down the word “South Station” in a piece of paper. Luckily the night before Mostafa had written for me a transcription into Arabic of South Station, and then one of those men said to me “yadla, yadla” (come on, come on). And I just followed him. I jump on the bus that was absolutely shattered. The crystals were all knackered, the seats cracked, some of them occupied by two or three Muslim women with their children. I trusted the driver because I read in the front side of the bus in Arabic “عمان – مأدبة” (Madaba – Amman).
Every one just entered into the bus and gave some coins to the driver. I remember I paid half dinar (50 cents) for a 45- minute drive to downtown Amman. The driver was eating peanuts, smoking and drinking coffee while driving, with honks and dozens of pedestrians crossing everywhere. Driving was chaotic in Jordan, and chaos was increasing as we got closer to the capital. No bus stops. In the middle of nowhere, rubble or half demolished buildings, people appeared to raise their hands and the bus reduced its speed to pick them up. So happened every 50 meters. Horns, shouts, prayers, Arabic coffee smell, that was it.
We entered the outskirts of Amman and in the middle of a very poor neighborhood, the bus driver said something in Arabic which I could not understand. A guy who looked like a college student approached me and told me in English: “South Station, there (pointing to a street that was even worse than Son Banya neighbourhood in Mallorca), 15 minutes walk.” So when I managed to cross the highway, I began walking in the suburbs. No one was in there. Occasionally some buses stopped by my side and the drivers asked me to jump in. I ignored them. Indeed finally I arrived in the South Station and there again I saw myself in the position that no one spoke English. So I started reading on minibuses what was written on them (I should thank my Arabic teacher, how teach me the Arabic alphabet), until I read that one with Wadi Musa’s destination. I asked the driver: “Petra”?, and he replied “نعام” (yes), so I jumped in with the other Arabs who were already in their seats. Half an hour later we left – we paid five dinars-, and after an hour and a half we made a pause in the desert, where there was a small “kiosk”. Then some people started to get down the minibus in the middle of nowhere. When we arrived in Wadi Musa, the driver stopped, turned to me and said, “Your hotel” (pointing to the Tetra Tree where I had actually booked one night). Apparently, when I asked him “Petra?”, showing him the hotel reservation, he remembered the name and I just got down right in front of it, a half hour walking from the station in Wadi Musa. It was authentic luxury. After several nights sleeping in certainly unpleasant places, this hotel came to meet me with pearl to deal with my diarrhea which started since the moment I stepped into Jordan. A porter took my bags to the room. Frankly I was embarrassed to be there with my backpacking appearance, but 30 dinars for a luxurious night seemed more than appropriate to have a good shower, relax and cope with the diarrhea. The views were amazing from the top of Wadi Musa: I could see all the people and as a background the mountains of Petra. An authentic paradise.
I left things and went down to reception to arrange my visit to Little Petra, a similar architectural ensemble of the famous “Petra”, but in a very small scale and with no tourists. The road up there was astonishing beautiful. Just when I entered Little Petra a Bedouin approached me to talk. The truth is that I did not want to deal with the Bedouin, so I continued walking on my own, completely alone. I walked along the path between towering rocks including some architectural vestiges. Later I stumbled upon the only tourists I saw in all the way, and it turned out to be a couple from Ibiza. I joined them, escaping the Bedouins. We climbed to the top of the rocks, from which we could see in the distance “Big Petra ” and the vastness of the desert. After the walk through Little Petra I returned to the hotel to rest and chat with the director, Ibrahim Nawafleh, very nice and always at my disposal. I took a shower and then I made a timelapse of the magical sunset over Petra mountains.
The next morning I got up at 7am, went downstairs to have breakfast and there I met Ibrahim’s brother. Very friendly, he offered to take me to Big Petra, which entrance was really expensive (I was shocked): 50 Jordanian dinars, more than 50 euros. Once there I got on the back of a horse and climbed a slope to the top of the mountain, from where I could contemplate the vastness of the landscape and the architectural beauty of Petra right at my feet. Tourists seemed small playmobil figures, they looked hot and harassed by the Bedouins, children and any criminal who tried to sell anything. From up there, icy cold, I could feel at least for a moment the immensity of that place, and I understood why it is considered as one of the great wonders of the world. After going down I started walking through the path, where the heat was stifling. I carried my two backpacks and harassment was unbearable. I wish I could have stayed up forever. But there they were, these masterpieces of architecture, embedded in nature, they seemed divinity but in a majestic scale model.
When I got tired of the thugs and weary weight of my backpack I decided to go to lunch before taking the Jett bus at 4pm to Amman. A new adventure would begin at that moment, but it will be written in the next chapter.