Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Petra part 3 - Camel Ride

Wait!! There's more! Let's see, so far we've some through As-Siq past the Treasury, up the cliffs to The High Place of Sacrifice on a donkey and back down. Our goal now is to go to perhaps the farthest place in Petra, The Monastery. This post will be some of the middle ground, highlight...a camel ride!Out of the mountain. Having seen the whole valley from above, we thought we knew what to expect as far as distances as well as sites. From above it looks like a ten minute walk to the entrance of the next big mountain, and looked like all of the tombs were close to each other. In actuality, being back at ground level, they tombs were high in the mountains and the distance was probably four times what it looked like from above!We just kept trudging along though, still energetic, even after our "sacrifice" climb. We kept getting hassled and harassed by donkey and camel men. I knew that we wanted to eventually ride camels, but probably not yet, not with everyone approaching us.

We declined all "offers" like "Hey, we give you special discount" and "You give your girlfriend camel, she love you more!" (to which I replied "I just gave her donkey, she loves me more already") We instead walked over to a tomb, went inside (felt kinda weird), then over to the amphitheater. The amphitheater was crumbling so it was closed to the public, although I saw some guy in there when we were climbing down the mountain.We then started walking again towards an opening in the mountain...so far away. We refused another couple donkey boys and some camels ridden by guys that looked like Cap'n Jack from Pirates of the Caribbean. Pae asked me "How long until we get to that place" and I estimated about an hour or hour and a half. At this point the legs were starting to go, and the words "hour and a half" made them weaker with the mountain staring us in the face and the guidebook saying that the final climb was made up of over 800 steps.

We looked at each other, turned around and walked towards a camel man. He looked surprised as we approached and asked for a camel. We then started negotiating prices. Started at 20 dinar each...haggled down to two of us, two camels 25 dinar all total. Not bad and so far the 2 dinar for the donkey and 25 dinar for camels was still less than the savings we pocketed with the entrance fee!! One dinar for Pae, never hurts to ask right!!So, if anyone is counting, today was Pae's first horse ride, first donkey ride and first camel ride! Considering that we rode elephants together in Thailand, I can't think of many more animals that we can ride! Any help?We mounted the camels from the ground as they sat or knelt. The were fitted with saddles and afghans on their backs or humps. The Bedouin man in charge of the camels handed me the rope and said "left, right, pull back" obviously telling me how to control the animal.Pae's camel was tied to mine, so I was in affect controlling both of them. At times Pae's camel would try to pass mine by taking a few quick steps, almost running, to which Pae kept saying "No running!" All I could do is pull back and hope that my camel would slow down too.I talked to the camel man a little as we long legged our way through the sand and onto some cobblestone in front of an ancient Roman temple. He said my camel's name was Elian, but it was hard for me to hear Pae's camel's name...something similar but started with an "S". I'm pretty sure it was Suhmera. I figured that our first camel ride would have been in Egypt, that was the plan at least! But Jordan has many camels and this occasion seemed like the perfect time to have this experience. I was surprised that they didn't stink...in fact, I can't even remember any odor at all out of the ordinary, same with the donkeys.We went as far as the camels could go before reaching the mountain, got off, payed the camel man and started our walk to the Monastery. That will be a post for next time. Time to sleep now! To be continued...

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