Our first full day in Jordan began with an exciting trip to the ancient city of Petra. For those of you who need a quick brush up, Petra is famous for its hand-carved stone architecture, sitting in the middle of a large gorge. Picture the Grand Canyon, but with an entire city chiseled out of the rock. There you have a small glimpse of Petra. While Petra is an ancient city, still parts of it have been influenced by the modern world. As we walked up to one of the most spectacular building remains, we were instantly greeted by salesmen of all ages. I always pay attention to what words the locals of a foreign country say to Americans, as I feel it shows what they see in our culture. The words used by everyone with a souvenir to sell were ‘sale’ and ‘happy hour’. I previously wasn’t aware that there could be a happy hour for postcards, but indeed there is one, and it just so happens to be from the city’s opening until closing for tourists.
After strolling through the streets of Petra and observing the wondrous caves and tombs, we began our ascent to the ‘high place’. A former pagan sacrificial site, the high place rests atop one of the natural walls of the city. The name is fitting, as the climb includes several hundred stairs, but ends with a promising view of the city below and the surrounding land. At the bottom of the climb there were advertisements to ride a donkey to the top for a mere $10. We strolled past it, feeling confident in our stair-climbing abilities; however a few hundred stairs later, the $10 donkey seemed more and more appealing. Upon reaching the top however the reward was much greater than the task at hand, as the view and the breeze caused everyone to stop and simply admire the surroundings.
Once descended, we were greeted with a surprise donkey ride back to the bus. Though this wasn’t just a tame circus-type donkey ride, rather these donkeys would frequently break into a trot or a run without any guidance on the rider’s part. I must say, you have never experienced true exhilaration until you have ridden a galloping donkey.
As the day wound down to a close we made one last stop at the Nebo mountain range. Sitting on the ground, surrounded by shards of pottery and shouting to hear over the nonstop mountainous wind, we read about the final days of Moses and were awestruck to learn that the ground we were sitting on was the same ground Moses walked on with God. Despite having spent a solid four days touring the Holy Land, it still amazes me, and I’m sure the rest of the group, to know that wherever we are standing contains a rich Biblical history. Looking forward to the next week and so, I am excited to see what our travels hold in store for us.
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