Petra

I made it to Petra after an incidental stay in Amman. It was scorching on the day of my arrival, and I certainly felt transported into ancient civilization. Petra was built around 300 BC and was known as Raqmu to the Nabataeans. But the once sprawling center of caravan trade was absent of commerce on the day of my visit. Having arrived just before a strike began in Wadi Musa, I snuck into an abandoned Petra, with hardly a tourist or hawker in sight; only local Bedouins and phantoms. Petra is massive, and the whole day was spent meandering from cave to cave, while at the same time trying to keep my skin covered and my body hydrated. Overlooking the valley, I heard a voice echoing off the walls. A Bedouin invited me to tea with his younger friend. Over cups of sage tea, we discussed their life. It turned out the elder had inherited the cave from his uncle. A UNESCO Heritage site with people still living inside? The respite gave me the energy to climb to the end of Petra to Al Deir, "The Monastery." While looking out over the expanse of Wadi Araba, "The Desolate and Dry Area," I felt myself pulled inward but also backward. Somehow, I realized I had gone far enough on my quest in the Middle East. I began retracing my steps the very next day, hinging my journey on the cliff of that ancient ruin.