Yup, that sand-bottle says “Happy Bearthday”
July 7 we drove down to Petra on the windy, hilly and at times very scenic King’s Highway to stay at the Movenpick resort and celebrate our joint birthdays July 8 (yup, we share the day… Evan’s 5 hours older than me).
We got up early on the 8th to try to beat the heat a bit, but had to do a few things, like get more cash in town, before we could get to the main event of the day — exploring Petra. When we finally got our tickets, it was already quite warm, but much of the path down to the site was in shady canyons, so we felt like we were doing fine. We walked past carvings in the gorge, and got more and more excited to get to finally see Petra’s famed Treasury as we continued our descent. Finally, we reached the end of the narrow canyon and lo and behold, the Treasury was right in front of us — a giant, pillared building hewn out of the pink rock.
The Treasury at Petra (look familiar from Indiana Jones?)
We walked on further, past elaborate tombs, an amphitheater and other grand structures carved into the sandstone. We made it all the way to the center of the ancient Nabataean town before I started feeling ill. I hadn’t been able to eat much since my stomach troubles the day we went to the dead sea, and though I was trying to drink plenty of water and electrolyte drinks, they didn’t seem to be enough.
We started the long walk back in the midday sun, trying to find any shade we could, and finally got a horse carriage to take us up the last long, completely exposed stretch. When we got back to the hotel, Evan called a doctor, who insisted on taking me to his clinic to get IV fluids and antibiotics since my blood pressure was very low. He struggled to get the IV in, which was quite painful, and the doctors weren’t explaining everything they were doing as I lay on the bed in their un-air-conditioned clinic, which made me a bit anxious.
Evan sat by my side, held my hand and read me stories from the Neil Gaiman book we brought along (Smoke and Mirrors, which is really good, by the way) and I was sent back to the hotel about four hours later, IV setup still in my hand because I still needed another dose that evening.
Somehow, I also managed to lose my sunglasses somewhere between the security checkpoint and our room on the way in from Petra… we looked everywhere trying to find them, but to no avail. I bought a new pair in Aqaba.
We had a quiet birthday dinner courtesy of room service, and Evan even had a cake made for us — it was strawberry shortcake decorated with an assortment of fruit. The doctor came to see me shortly before midnight to give me another dose of IV antibiotics, and he brought me a birthday present, a decorative sand jar that had my name and camels on one side and “Happy Bearthday” on the other.
Petra by night
The next day, I felt much better and we took it easy, taking a small drive to “Little Petra,” another gorge with carved-out structures. We made it back into Petra at night to experience the walk down to the treasury by candlelight, which was really nice. It was still warm, but not too hot, and the candles glowing amber in paper bags lined with sand gave a wonderful ambiance to the place. Evan and I even saw a shooting star on our walk out.
On the 10th, we got up early to get to Petra before the sun — when it opened at 6 a.m. We had the place to ourselves. Even the shopkeepers and donkey and camel guides were still asleep (many of them just sleep right there in Petra, on cots or mats outside or in caves). We explored the East Cliff and took the staircase hike up to the High Place of Sacrifice, which gave us some great views.
That afternoon we went down to Aqaba, on the Red Sea, which is probably Jordan’s most beautiful and scenic town, but with the temperatures soaring well over 100 degrees, it was too hot to do much of anything, and we headed back up to Madaba on the 11th to relax before we head off to Istanbul.
We didn’t make it to Wadi Rum to go camping in the desert because I’m still not feeling 100% better, but Jordan has been an amazing place to travel and I’d love to come back to spend more time here.
You can see all our photos of Petra in Evan’s Facebook gallery.