Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Rose Red City Revisited

“ Match me such a marvel from Eastern clime. A rose red city half as old as time itself”. From a poem by David Burgon

Petra now one of the new “Seven Wonders of the World” is worthy of at least three days of your life, we read endless lists of things to do before you die, and perhaps I will someday write the definitive list of things I would like to do and see or have done, but then again watching an exorcism under a full moon in the Pakistani Desert would not appeal to many people or refusing to shake the hand of a slave trader are high on your list.

Anyway Petra is an incredible place that makes you reflect on history and what has been and what happens to civilizations. A complete civilization that was lost to man for nearly five hundred years, it was finally deserted in the 1400’s and not rediscovered until the 1800’s. What was a major city on the Spice Trade route just was forgotten and thru earthquake and natural erosion we have left now a place that at first sight can take your breath away with what they built.

Now the morning as always does not start well, the hotel I am in Aqaba has managed to complete a breakfast buffet where the hot food is cold and the cold food is warm, perhaps someone should give the chef Bay Marine 101, those candle things under the tray are meant to be lit to keep the food warm and the cold food should be, well cold. Any way that pales into insignificance when it came time to fill the car with petrol. Pulling into the gas station, only to have the attendant walk up to the car smoking a cigarette and calmly commence to fill the car whilst smoking. Now call me old fashioned but hey I saw the movie “Zoolander” say no more, except luckily Sam the Smoking Gas Pumper and I both lived to see another day.

Now the main reason I wanted to come and see Petra again was that when I was here a few weeks ago with the First Lady Laura Bush it was a classic media event whereby there are six designated “Photo Sprays” whereby you get 60 seconds to get the moment before you are told to move it to the next spray, no stopping to look around and take in the majesty of a site but rather get positioned for another 60 seconds. At the same time being told in no uncertain terms that the First Lady Does NOT want to be filmed from behind, to control the local Press they actually made us face a wall so that we could not see her enter a building in Petra from behind.

The down side of being a tourist is that you have to pay to enter but given the fact that IO could actually stop and look at the sheer beauty of Petra is a price worth paying, funny things you never get on the media zoo is meeting the local souvenir ladies. Halfway up the reported 800 steps to the Monastery, I counted 793 by the way. Who can happily converse in Italian as well as they can in Arabic? Or cracking a joke with my guide about whether they threw camels of the sacrificial rock 200 meters above the city, lets face it that would be a funny story “Man hit by falling sacrificed camel”.

I often visit incredible places and witness some amazing events of history whilst on the road, but then again sometimes you visit a place that is worth the effort to enjoy the experience, even if Sam the Smoking Gas Pumper makes you wonder what am I doing here.

Life is too short and there is so much to see and enjoy. Driving back to Aqaba the sun was setting and the light on the mountains makes you realize that we do really live on a beautiful planet.

Back to Amman after breakfast tomorrow awaiting word as to whether I am off to Syria and another adventure, just hope the breakfast is well shall we say hot or cold.

Post note , the breakfast was colder the next morning, well the hot food was colder and I note with humor that the guy behind the breakfast buffet, kept popping my toast out constantly, I suppose just in case it was getting hot.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not filmed from behind? Hummm...makes you wonder why? The powerful always have their peculiar ways...don't they. We have read that you never let anyone touch your camera. I see compromise don't touch my camera and I won't photograph your rear...admiral. Ah the intricacies of being a cameraman. They say that it is impossible to lie to the camera Mal. Have you found this to be true? Not even a little white lie? We think Mrs. Bush a nice lady but cannot understand this strange request from her unless possibly....bed head. Your blog is always interesting Mal and gets us to thinking. Thanks....
Yarnell, AZ