Cue ridiculously long blog post round duos!
This last week we had our first overnight field trip. Where you may ask? Jordan. Don’t worry… I wasn’t overly thrilled about going either. I mean…cool, another Middle Eastern country, slightly different culture, probably some cool piles of rocks. But do we really need to spend 4 days doing just that? I could not have been more wrong!!
First of all, we left ridiculously early, on our giant tour bus to make it to the border before anyone else did. When they said border crossing, I’m thinking something similar to the U.S. –Canada border. In set up I wasn’t that far off, they look very similar, except this border has mines in the no man’s land and they actually take the passport checking very seriously complete with scanning of our luggage and mirrors under the bus. We waited at the border for about 3.5 hours. I’m not gonna lie… I got a wee bit cranky. Finally the ordeal was done, we were all cleared and we were on our way to an adventure!
First stop: Mount Nebo, where Moses looked and saw the promise land and then was translated. I wish I would have realized that we were going there so I could have studied about it a bit more. Unfortunanetly, I was so cold and hungry that I don’t think I really got the full experience (plus it was super hazy so I couldn’t really see anything off the top of the mountain). But still, I got the same kind of feeling that I get when I go to the Manti Temple. A prophet of old stood here! Walked here! Spoke to God here! Plus, my mental picture of the Bible is coming together a lot smoother now. When I read about places on my own now I can actually visualize them and picture what’s going on. Awesome!
After Mt. Nebo, we went to see the Madaba Map. I was pretty excited for this one! Not a day goes by here that I don’t think about what an excellent teacher Mr. Oram was and I’m so grateful for his passion for art and being able to transfer it to me. I can’t imagine what this trip would be like without it. Soooo…. Mr. Oram had talked with us quite a bit about this map, in reality, it was not as vivid as I expected. But that could not diminish how fascinating wit was, how mind blowing the details, and the fact that thousands of footsteps of old had brought pilgrims to that exact spot on their route to Jerusalem. That same church also had the Madonna with the Blue Hand. I can’t remember exactly why that icon was so important…but I remember learning about it and so naturally I was excited to see it! After a quick stop at a local restaurant, we drove down to Petra.
Side note, on the drive, Tanner Potter sat next to me. I haven’t really talked to him at all that much, but that ride we got to know each other pretty well. I found a kindred soul in regards to books!!! And fun fact: he is a Davis Dart and part of the original Da Boys group… pre cursor to The Stoop…. Hmmmmmmmm….
Ok, we get to Petra and the welcoming committee is literally in the drive waiting for us, in full uniform playing the bagpipes, drums, and singing/chanting with swords drawn. What the heck!! I felt like royalty! After they ushered us through the gauntlet there was mango juice and bread with oil and thyme for us to snack on while we enjoyed the music. I’m pretty sure that will never ever happen for me again! I just soaked it all up and couldn’t get over the fact that it was happening to me!! After were checked in(and had an incredible Bedouin dinner), most of our group headed down to Petra to do a candlelight tour. There is something so incredibly magical about red rock at night! The whole time we were there, I kept thinking about working down in Zion and the nights when we’d all go rappelling Jolly’s by moonlight. That summer was the best decision I’ve ever made… maybe that’s what I’ll do again this summer… hmmmmm…
Anyways, we walked through the canyon following a little trail of tea lights. The stars were breathtaking! I’ve missed seeing stars regularly here. There is so much light pollution that only a few show up, but out in small town Petra down in the canyon, they were almost as bright as at the ranch! And I saw all of Orion for the first time, instead of just his belt! Wahoo! Walking through the canyon with Brooke and Larson, (the guy who reminds me of Landon), I honestly felt like I was right back in Southern Utah, except every once and a while the trail changed into an ancient Roman road lit by hundreds of little candles. We kept chatting and laughing, when all of a sudden we turned a corner and we’re staring at the Treasury of Petra, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. And do you know what, it’s even more awe-inspiring than I ever imagined! I think all 3 of us stopped mid-sentence and just stared in amazement as we approached this magnificent tomb. As the mouth of the canyon opened up, there were hundreds of candles lighting up the Treasury. We sat down to just appreciate the majesty infront of us, and some local men started playing the flute and some Middle Eastern guitar/cello thing. It was… eerie, and magical, and time-transcendent (is that even a word?). Even with the freezing cold wind chilling my fingers one by one, I couldn’t get enough! Finally, I dragged myself away…with the promise I could come back the next day.
We stared bright and early the next morning. Our tour guide, Eeah, walked us through Petra by daylight. It was fascinating! He described the aqueducts that they had carved out of the sandstone, pointed out the camels carved into the walls, and explained the hundreds of caves/tombs that we would be seeing that day. Finally, we rounded the corner and I knew we would be seeing the incredible treasury tomb in a matter of seconds by daylight. Eeah told us to make lines, hold hands, and keep our eyes down. When I finally looked up again, the Treasury was in front of me, regal and imposing. After a few minutes there, they cut us loose to go explore. Petra is huge! I could have spent days and days there…probably even weeks! Everything was so ancient, and some places we climbed into, I felt like I was the first person to be there in centuries! Ok, I know that that’s ridiculous… but it was so easy to imagine!
We took off with a small quick group to try and move quickly to see as much as possible with our short time. Hannah led the way followed by Brooke and I, then Larson, Andrew, and Mike tagging along. We booked it up the tallest mountain to get to the High Place first. Over 800 stairs. Ouch! We climbed them all in about 15 mins, and made it to the high place to enjoy the view for a while. What I wasn’t expecting though, was at the top there was a full on alter. Eeah had told us that they believe that Moses stayed some time there and there is a tomb for Aaron, Moses’s brother at the top of a mountain a few mountains away. Anyways, the high place alter was the first alter I’d seen complete. And it was huge! Even if none of the Old Testament prophets used it, I loved the visualization I got from that mountain top. We could see everything around us for miles and were so close to the sky, it wasn’t easy to get there, but worth the hike, and I could see perfectly how it would be laid out… I could almost see the smoke rising from the alter.
|I'm pretty sure I'm bringing the fanny pack back ;)|
Heading down, we saw a cool lookout and of course had to check it out…. And discovered a back way down. A few other groups saw us head down that way and followed us, but our pace was a bit to quick for them. The way down was littered with tombs and caves. And about half way down there was a Bedouin woman playing a haunting tune on a flute. She pulled us to the edge of the cliff and pointed out sacred sights. Kinda cool! We crawled into graves and explored the nooks and cranny’s of pitch black caves(thanks for making me take a flashlight Dad!) and got to know a French couple that was playing leapfrog with us down the trail. Once we got to the bottom, there was a herd of donkey’s just chilling there, so we chased them around a bit and all I could think of was that stupid mule Elmer that I learned to barrel race on and how similar these dumb donkeys were too him. Right after the donkeys, we stumbled across some adorable children who were racing their homemade toys (a wheel from a stroller cut off and stuck onto a stick). They were running back and forth with bare feet over sharp little rocks. It broke my heart! When they saw us, they started yelling “Hello Mis-ter! Hello Mis-te-er!” They tried to become our guides through the caves. We’d been told not to indulge them because they should be in school, but we played with them a little bit, they couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7! Andrew even got them to race back and forth with him a few times. And after we left, they followed us for about 15 mins chattering in broken English. They were so adorable, I wish I could have taken every one of them with me!
When we came to the road to the Monastery, we parted ways with the little kids and as we came around the corner, we spotted Nate Monson, Freddy and Nicholette. And from yards away we heard Nate yell “Stop the Donkey!!! Stop the Donkey!!!” we could not stop laughing! We had specifically been told no donkey rides… so to hear him freak out over the donkey moving a few steps was priceless!
We booked it up to the Monastery, about halfway up the steep stairs I’m thinking… “There is no way that this is worth it! My legs are killing me!” But guess what?! It was so worth it! We caught up to a couple other groups on the way up, and by the time we all reached the top (a wicked 800ish stairs later), out of breath and sweaty, the view was unreal! A massive tomb carved right out of the rock. Now, we’d been seeing quite a few of these all day, but this one was the most imposing one I’d seen so far. We had 45 mins to kill up there before lunch, so quite a few pictures were taken. About 30 of us climbed inside of the tomb and before you knew it, Prince of Egypt was being sung and we were dancing and forming circles… the little local boys were sitting on the death bed laughing at us. They must have thought we were completely crazy! We hiked around a little bit more, a few of the guys disappeared and pretty soon they were yelling at us from the top of the tomb. They had found a back way up and clambered up to it. Larson, Brooke, and I started to follow in their footsteps but before we could go very far a ranger chased us down and shooed us out. Turns out there is a no climbing sign that was facing the complete wrong way so obviously we didn’t see it…
On the way down from the monastery, starving as we were… I had to stop and look at jewelry. All morning long the necklaces had been catching my eye. They weren’t the generic (I can’t believe I’m using that term to describe anything here, but it’s the only word that is coming to mind right now) one’s that I’ve been seeing in the old city. Some of them were genuinely unique and somewhat specific to the area. About half way down, I spotted one I hadn’t seen yet, picked it up, and well had to have it. I’m so proud of my bartering skills lately. I paid exactly what I wanted for it, and I love it!
After lunch we decided to go try and find the museum that held the Elephant capitals from the amphitheater columns. We got pointed to a structure at the top of a mountain. Up we went… even more stairs… honestly, the south stairs at BYU seem like a breeze after this trip! Turns out we were given wrong directions, but there was a small trail around the back that we took, and after we turned the corner, there was a sign telling us we were on our way to see the crusader fortress. Awesome! We found it pretty easily, and for the first time since early that morning we weren’t surrounded by tons of shopkeepers and tourists… just us and a little man with a coffee shop. These tombs had some wicked graves in them, that looked like people were actually buried there instead of excavated. Obviously lots of pictures were taken, and then we realized we were running out of time. We raced back down to see the Roman Amphitheater and Palace Tombs. The amphitheater was cool, very similar to other one’s we’d seen. But, possibly the funniest moment of the trip happened here.
There was a little boy trying to sell us postcards, and he would not leave us(and by us I mean mostly Elizabeth) alone. Every time we got rid of him, he came back about 30 seconds later. Finally, Elizabeth ran out of excuses so she told the little boy to try Mike, because he had all the money. The boy ran over to Mike and started pestering him (what we didn’t know at the time, was that Mike had been telling the little boy the exact same lie about Elizabeth.) Mike tries to joke about us with the little boy, but he got right in his face, so Mike started backing up. Right into a big hole that led to the cisterns. I watched as Mike teetered on the edge of this hole, windmill arms and everything, then fell (I swear the whole thing was in slow motion) right into this hole, completely disappearing. My first thought was “Mike may have just died!” Elizabeth and I ran over, followed closely by Larson and Brooke from another direction. Mike was trying to stand up at the bottom of about an 8 foot drop with 2 good size ledges sticking out of the sides. We were really worried at first when he said he wasn’t ok. But he climbed out of the hole just fine and clarified that he had hit his tailbone pretty hard.
He started walking around trying to walk it off and another group came up and asked what had happened. As I started to describe it, it hit me just how hilarious the situation was… honestly it was like something straight out of a movie, and the fact that Mike genuinely was alright. I started giggling… I swear I tried to hold it in. But then Mike said something about how it was karma cuz he’d been sending little kids at us all day, and the whole situation was comical… and I lost it. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to throw up! I had to leave and pull myself together. Even today, a week later, I can’t think about it without a smile. Mike is okay, he even started running with us again a few days ago, and he thinks the best part of the story now is how hard I was laughing.
After Mike’s dive, we really had to hustle to get to the Palace. We hiked up, poked our heads in stood in amazement, and I may have recounted the falling story to Matt and Mckay who we ran into there. We split up pretty fast though, Mike, Elizabeth, Brooke and I wanted to ride camels and the others wanted to explore a bit more. We hadn’t even made it down the hill, before a man offered us a camel ride. I put my bargaining skills to work again and got us a ride back to the Treasury for 5 dinars each. (I’m actually ridiculously proud of that one!) Brooke and I had to double up, but I didn’t even mind! It was a truly unique experience, and terrifying when the camel stood up and sat back down. Surprisingly we got a lot of comments as we were riding back (“Oh, camels make the ladies sexy!” “Hey you two in the middle there, you sexy!” “Middle two lesbians?”) Yikes!! I didn’t realize camels were an attraction factor.
Mike thought it was hysterical and I can’t really blame him for anything after my reaction to his fall. We made it back to the treasury where a lot of our group were hiring camels for pictures. (Can I just add, they paid more to take a picture on the camel, then we paid to ride and take a picture… booyah!) A couple of the guys decided to put 4 on a camel… it ended almost in disaster with Larson making a full 360 around the camel’s neck and the camel nipping at him and snorting like crazy. It was a perfect way to end our day in Petra!
Alrighty… this post is already way to long. Kudos to you if you made it all the way through! Promise, the rest of this trip won’t be so lengthy (hopefully!)