Jordan. Middle East and Arabic territory. The ancient and mythical lost city of Petra awaits and I couldn’t keep it together, I just felt bloody thrilled about it. But of course no magic happens before going through an uncomfortable 24 hrs. experience that contained delayed flights, running and tackling people at Dubai’s airport, technical aircraft faults on the 2nd plane and my stupid face being enchanted by a beautiful blonde Russian Matryoshka. At 10:00 am I landed on the capital city of Jordan, Amman.
I had no sleep, was not able to shave the 31 hairs my face is capable to grow and I was starving. Arrived to the migration part of the airport, paid the 40 JOD entrance visa fee and my mind was just ready to go to the hostel, eat and sleep until the next morning…
As I gave my passport to the officer, he started asking the typical questions but stared at me in a peculiar and odd way. -Sir, please go back there and sit down, we will keep your passport- he said as he would talk in Arabic on his radio. -Is there something wrong?- I asked. No response. I actually thought that maybe they have to check for criminal records on their system or something, but I was too tired to argue and ask so I obediently went to sit down and waited. A new officer and a translator arrived to the scene, called me and took me a bit apart from the entrance queue. He started basically to ask the same routine questions but now with a more intense look towards me. -Mexican? Why were you in Africa? then Dubai? and then here? And why are you alone? What is your business? Do you know someone here?- he asked, as I cheerfully responded: -Just holidays sir! I’m a student and just came to visit Petra- whereas his eyes would scan every single movement I was doing. He asked about my luggage which was on the delivery platform and he said the bag had to be scanned. But of course. We passed the official entrance to the country, picked up my bag and as the bag was going through the scanner he said -What’s all these?- pointing to all the flag patches I have in my bag. -Ahhh ye! I just like traveling very much sir (happy face)-. Nothing obvious revealed on the scanner, he asked me to open the bag and he found two plastic bags of a mysterious kind of powder. -AHAAA! IS THIS THE COCA?!, where’s the coca??- to what I immediately bursted in laughing and said: -no no sir, that’s sand of the Sahara and from Zanzibar, I have no drugs-. He saw the sand and then he said: -don’t lie to me, are you sure you have no drugs?? “Cero” drogas?? No coca!!!??-, -AHAHAHAHAHAHHA- I responded. He started to become really pissed as other officers were approaching the scene and talking in Arabic; Mexico was the only word I could catch. But despite all the intense efforts of the Jordanian airport security force and of course putting aside my obvious badass Mexican international drug lord face, the officers did not find any evidence of narcotics, gave me back my passport and let me go. It’s grand you know? He was doing his job and did it good; except maybe for the tiny fact that just for being Mexican he assumed I would be packed with drugs as the “Chapo” style. Classic pun. #mexicanproblemas
As soon as my stomach was full and my head touched the bed, at 15:45 I was already dead and slept for 17 hrs.
The next day, since the bus to Petra was totally full, I spent the day walking around downtown, exploring the ancient city spots like the citadelle, visited some temples, museums, mosques and of course tasted the local cuisine. I must reckon that hummus should be named as humanity patrimonial. Just saying. Just so fucking tasty. Amman is a complete and expanded 3 million people capital city. Modern/fancy and ancient areas, cars horning, black tea and mint tea, date fruits, shishas and Arabas selling everything at the market. Also quite a lot of security checkpoints with massive trucks and a heavy machine gun handled by an officer. It was a good day I must say.
So there was I, waking up at 4:57 am, courtesy of “D”, an individual responsible of the latter and last emotional tsunami that went through my core (story for another time), and was up and ready at 5:30 am so I could take the bus at 6:30 am to Petra. Takes around 4 hrs. to get there from Amman and it’s the only available schedule, which is actually quite good if you want to visit the place for a day and come back to the capital. I was not n a rush so I decided to spend the night there. The city is small and it is composed by an area of hotels, food locals and a modern bedouin village where the locals live and work.
Ladies and gentlemen, Petra, one of the seven wanders of the world. One of the “most see” places of this planet. Holder of secrets founded by the Nabateans. After I set everything up in the hotel, I was just ready to walk all day and discover all this magical land could provide me. As a cultural data, tourism is the main income of the country with Petra of course being the main attraction above anything. It is indeed not cheap to go in, it costs 50 JOD to go for a day, 55 JOD to pay for a two day visit and then up for different situations. Also, Petra used to be in the old days (around 100-500 D.C.) one of the main cities for commerce, so everybody passed through this place. As said, the site is filled with bedouins who sell souvenirs, tea, food, shishas, camel, horse and donkey rides, scarfs and turbans among others. Some of them are actually quite “annoying” as they follow you for like 80 m. trying to convince you to buy a bracelet or something; in the end, it’s the job and they gotta sell to eat, I do get that. Anyway, as I went into the site, I felt I was entering Mars. I thought the Sahara was actually red-ish but hell, this area was just sooo Martian! For a moment I felt I was in a chapter of the book of John Carter. The first part you can appreciate some monuments done by the Nabateans, which are kind of tombs in form of squared monolites (is that actually how you spell that?) called “Jinns”. It’s quite impressive. It is possible to start seeing a kind of water channels used to distribute water (dah) in the old days, until you get to the Siq canyon. The almost 80 m stone walls above the head combined with the sun beams created a smile cheek to cheek in my face. Everything was getting more red and the stones and walls had this peculiar mineral line colors.
Bedouins, Asians, Russians, Americans, some latins too. People from all over the world including their selfie sticks and big ass Canons walking through these ancient magnificence. The canyon takes about 2km or around that, until at some point, the pass becomes a bit narrow, barely sun goes in, but far away at the end of the path, it is possible to appreciate some huge red-ish carved pillars and some camels walking around. “The treasury” amiguitas y amiguitos. Shit. Fucking staggering. I had no words, just wide opened eyes and an impressed face by the almost 40 m carved monument. As many cultures passed in more than 1000 years throughout this place, the site has arabic, persic, greek, roman influences. It’s unbelievable how such radical mixture just works. Hundreds of people taking pictures and riding camels, so I just took maybe 10 min. to appreciate the place and kept walking, I wanted to go to the furthest point of the site which is called “The Monastery”, it is also the highest point where Israel can be appreciated while having a delicious cup of bedouin tea, and it is also like a 3.5 km walk with a quarter of it going just up.
I felt like a huge ignorant as I thought that Petra was going to be only the Treasury and the Monastery but hell, the city is huge! and it is claimed that is not yet fully discovered. If today it looks magnificent, I cannot imagine how it was in the glory days. Royal tombs, a roman theatre, carved houses within the mountains, a royal palace, an orthodox church, more tombs, more sacred temples, a straight path with columns on the sides, ancient entrance doors. I also felt as I was just bloody part of an “Assassin’s Creed” game or something. I felt proud to actually wear the turban I got in Morocco. It was hot but quite windy, so it actually helped to protect the face and all the locals were wearing theirs. Some even talked to me in Arabic and said -you look like a modern bedouin!. -Yala yala!- I responded laughing.
After climbing up the path, sweating like crazy and regret smoking for the last couple of months, I reached the monastery, which to be fair might not be as pretty as the Treasury in terms of architecture, but it is in fact more impressive since it is bigger and it is older and with a lot more of historical background. I sat down, had a nice glass of juice and smoked a shisha. You might think I am crazy but as I was walking across the city, I could actually imagined the old caravans going and carrying exotic spices, fabriques, stones, weapons, animals; the locals buying the merchandise, the royal guards protecting the city. For a moment I felt I was crazy, so I decided to keep walking and go to the highest point and enjoy my tea as I could observe the amazing view. I even found a cute cat that was playing with a butterfly, played with me and then back to the butterfly. I cannot explain it, despite being in such an old piece of the world, I felt just great, I felt welcomed, I felt as if the land was saying “just enjoy mate!”
I spent the 2nd day basically walking through the further temples, churches and tombs of the site. Of course spent like 30 min. just watching “The Treasury”. Something I really liked is that there is some sort of “freedom” to walk almost wherever you want. So as I was climbing one of the mountains, I first found this amazing spot on the top where there is a bedouin tent and you can see “The Treasury” right from the top, in piece, having tea. Absolutely wobbling. I kept walking, kept climbing and then found two bedouins that were smoking shisha and drinking tea as their goats were having lunch. -Hey tourist! come! drink tea!- they said to me. I was quite thirsty and thought ye well! one cup would not hurt, so I went and asked how much was for a cup as one of them said: -No, no, no. We don’t want your money. Money don’t make friends. Please join us and enjoy if you want- to what I was just shocked, it was a totally unexpected answer. So I smiled, sat down and talked with these guys for like an hour. Solomen and Ibrahim were their names. They shared some of their seeds and taught me how to opened them with the teeth and eat them. -You have a sincere smile my friend- said Ibrahim, -there aren’t many people like you these days, you are a good man-. This is a moment where I was more than convinced that it doesn’t matter what religion you believe in, what skin color you have, what clothes you wear, how much money you have; it doesn’t matter if you’ve been to jail, if you’ve been to church every sunday, if you’ve had a shot once with David Bowie or if you’re a pal of the pope. It was not that what Ibrahim said fed my ego and made me think “ah ye, I’m great I know”, hell no. It was the fact that he opened himself to a 27 year old lad he barely knew and shared his beliefs, his food, his beverages and his thoughts. He taught me a lesson that I will never forget in my life. No matter who you are, we all have the same blood color and we ALL are capable of uniting and of sharing what we have, even if it is a total stranger.
During the next day I came back to Amman, had for the last time an original, delicious and industrial size plate of hummus, had a good amount of sleep, met an interesting person who drove me to the airport and shared some of his crazy young sailor stories, Greece included in the visited spots and took the flight back home. I’m pretty sure you know that feeling where you actually feel more tired after holidays than before? This time I felt recharged, fully fucking motivated and recharged. I couldn’t believe how in 3 weeks my mind was able to see so much, to feel so much, to give and to share.
As I saw from the plane the famous dead sea, I couldn’t stop thinking how bloody lucky and grateful I am for being able of living this type of journey. Call me a cheesy, romantic, annoying and naive bastard, I don’t care, but every place I go I find something different that connects me in such a way…I can’t explain it. I’m not bragging about it, I’m not showing off how many cities, places, countries I’ve been to and I will go to; as said, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, where you’ve been, I am just trying to unite and to share who I am with you.
Thank you so much Jordan. I am more than certain that 4 days were just not enough, I do hope one day in my life I can go back to explore and discover more of your magical corners. I promise I’ll shave and dress nice clothes next time so you don’t think I’m trying to be a Mexican contraband drug lord. Thank you for showing me one of the brightest sides of life, I promise too I’ll do my best to share that side wherever I go.
Next stop, home…for a little while.