Dangerously Daydreaming

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence

Indiana Jones For a Day

Three years ago I went on a humanitarian aid trip to Amman, Jordan.  Our work and experiences I’ll save for another posting where I can do them justice.  For now, I’ll just reminisce on when I got to be Indiana Jones for a day…

Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade made a major impact on me at the tender age of seven. I remember watching Indy nearing the end of his search for the Holy Grail, riding through the “Canyon of the Crescent Moon” until he arrived at a stunning façade hewn from sandstone walls. The same façade that I later learned was The Treasury of Petra. Petra, the capital city of the Nabateans (Edomites). The name etched itself into my mind and I longed to see it for myself. Watching that film over and over again as a child, I promised myself that I would go there one day. One day.

My team and I got a “tourist day” to visit Petra during our trip.  I was on eggshells with excitement – a lifelong (ok, not a very long life, but still) dream come true!  This was that day!  The temperature was hovering around 95 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  Donning a pair of jeans for the leg protection (I didn’t know what to expect) as well as the head shawl that is perfunctory in the culture we were visiting.  I had a shoulder bag with 1.5 litres of water, some snacks, and a bottle of sunscreen.  Bring on the desert!

Canyon to Petra

We started out a visitor’s center in the nearby city of El-Gi.  A rocky dirt road led west from the town into a valley and before too long, that valley turned into a canyon.  Sandstone cliffs towered overhead, layered in hues of rose-pink, gold, cream, and bronze.  Photos couldn’t capture the myriad of colors along those canyon walls.  Along the road were dwellings hewn from the stone and following along beside us was a dried up aqueduct that had once brought flowing water to a thriving city.  A mile or so into the canyon we rounded a bend and there it was – The Treasury stood before me and my heart thrilled.  A dream being realized in that moment…

The Treasury

I was struck with awe – it was magnificent and all I had imagined.  In that moment I felt like an explorer stumbling upon a fortress forgotten by time.  The place I had longed to visit, immortalized in my mind, lay before me awaiting discovery.  I thought my life may well have been complete, but oh no!  There was more, a whole city awaited us!  We were given several hours to explore and I learned that the road through the city goes on for several miles, ending on a mountain top where The Monastery (a near exact replica of the Treasury) sits.  How could I not venture the hike?

Camels apparently bite and spit so we kept our distance.

I grabbed a few friends and we continued on our way down the dusty, dry road.  For a price, you could ride camels, donkeys, or horses through the city.  Peddlers along the roadside offered up trinkets and souvenirs to the passing tourists.  A little boy of maybe 7 years old ran up to us and after a smiled greeting in Arabic handed me a piece of sandstone layered in purple, gold, rose, and white – glittering as though infused with diamonds.  It was a gift apparently, as he wouldn’t take my offering of dinar in exchange.  He walked alongside us part-way through the city and the smiles came often despite the language barrier.  I still have that sliver of sandstone and think of that sweet boy whenever I see it.

Camels for hire, with the amphitheatre in the background.

Our road led us through a 6th century B.C. city and past dwellings, tombs, and temples carved in stone.  The Nabataean kings each wanted their own stellar and massive tomb and would commence construction as soon as they ascended to the throne.  We were told that most of these behemoth structures still stand unfinished because the kings would often die before completion and construction would then move to start on the next king’s tomb.

Tombs carved out of stone.

Greco-Roman structures like an amphitheatre and Romanesque temple were added to the city during Rome’s height of power to cater to the Roman citizens who would pass through Petra since it was located along a major commercial route.  Here, I glimpsed some of the brilliance of the Edomites.  The Great Temple had slats of wood inserted between stone blocks for when earthquakes would strike the city.  The more flexible wood served as a cushion for the massive stone bricks and its petrified remains could still be seen in the walls.

The road to The Monastery.

Our road wound onward and upward and soon the heat of the afternoon came in full force.  Between the sun and the uphill hike we were resting every 15 minutes and had to purchase more water.  And the clock was ticking – soon we would have to regroup and head back to Amman.  The hard push to the top combined with a decidedly steeper trail as we neared the summit and the promise of adventure, made for a breathless arrival at The Monastery.

Trail to the top.

We had enough time to shoot some photos at the top of the mountain, see The Monastery, and take in the view of the surrounding desert before we embarked at a break-neck pace back down to the valley and our team.  Our tired, tender feet were covered in dust and our backs drenched in sweat, but it was well-worth the adventure.  And I’ll not soon forget when I got to be Indiana Jones for a day.

On top of the mountain!


29 comments on “Indiana Jones For a Day

  1. Traveling Saver
    February 29, 2012

    Thanks for sharing – Petra is on my bucket list.

    • Audrey
      February 29, 2012

      GO! That’s all I can say. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  2. ethelthedean
    February 29, 2012

    Brilliant photos and fabulous writing Ms. Jones! Your adventure has given me goosebumps! I also, really, really dig that pic of you and the camel – what a perfect capture.

    I have such a hard time wrapping my head around constructions similar to the Treasury. How did people accomplish such extraordinary pieces of art/architecture? It boggles the mind.

    • Audrey
      February 29, 2012

      Thank you, thank you! Writing it let me relive some of those moments. I highly recommend making a trip to visit… Camels are adorable, I would have loved to pet it. After getting bit by too many horses I thought better of adding “camel bite” to my collection… 😉

      It’s crazy, isn’t it? I must have wandered though the place with my maw hanging open the whole time. They didn’t even have basic safety equipment like I use for rock climbing. And to carve out buildings by hand from stone, wow…

  3. Silvia Reed
    February 29, 2012

    What an incredible adventure, Audrey. What beautiful memories I have from Petra, such an amazing place and you are right you can’t help but feel like Indiana Jones, the view of Petra as you are coming in is hard to describe in words. We took the “donkey” ride for the +1,000 steps monument ride and I was scared to death the donkey would flip at such an altitude. But it was totally worth it, these experiences are what we are after when traveling. Petra and Wadi Rum were absolutely the highlight of our trip and the Bedouin’s hospitality is indescribable. – Silvia R.

  4. captainariel
    March 2, 2012

    OMG, I absolutely love reading your blog posts! You have the most amazing stories and you word them all beautifully! I can almost feel the thrill just by reading what you’ve experienced! I only hope I can have some amazing stories of my own 😀 ❤

    • Audrey
      March 3, 2012

      You are going to have some truly amazing stories, I can’t wait to see your postings on Cambodia and Thailand! Travel is truly amazing and opens my eyes everytime. 🙂

      • captainariel
        March 6, 2012

        Agreed. I Love being in new places! 😀 never thought I would, but I do now! Haha

  5. Curly Carly
    March 4, 2012

    That’s awesome! I loved that movie so much as a kid. You were lucky to get to go!

    • Audrey
      March 4, 2012

      It really was such an amazing time! I think that movie really put Petra on the map… 🙂

  6. Ellis Shuman
    March 7, 2012

    Amazing story about an amazing place! I’ve been to Petra twice. For many years, before there was a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, I lived not far from Petra across the border. I dreamed about visiting the red rock canyons and the tombs. Then the treaty was signed and I was able to enter Jordan at Aqaba. I would love to visit Petra again!

    • Audrey
      March 7, 2012

      It really is such a phenomenal place. I hope to make a return trip one day as well… Do you still live in Israel? I’ve been equally entranced with the beautiful Israeli countryside – so green and rich with history.

  7. susielindau
    May 2, 2012

    What an incredible place! I bet that little boy still remembers you since you made an impression on him!

    • Audrey
      May 3, 2012

      It was a dream come true to be there! And thank you, that’s a really happy thought. 🙂

  8. Yatin
    May 2, 2012

    That was quite an adventure! And it was for a cause, makes it even awesome! Do you travel a lot?

    • Audrey
      May 3, 2012

      Yes, it’s great to be able to travel with a good purpose! I try to travel internationally on humanitarian aid trips at least once each year and get around the states when I can too. 🙂

  9. I want so badly to go here! I am so glad I found your blog through Susie L 🙂

    • Audrey
      May 3, 2012

      Planning to go anytime soon? It’s such an amazing place, hope you can make the trip! I’m glad you’d stopped in and can’t wait to check out your blog too!

      • maybe 2014 to middle east!

      • Audrey
        May 3, 2012

        Excellent! Keep me posted on that! I’m going back to Israel this November, Lord willing and no war breaks out…

      • that will be a nice change of pace right?

      • Audrey
        May 3, 2012

        Always love being in the Middle East. This time will be working in the red light district of Tel Aviv with prostitutes and drug addicts. Definitely shows a different side of the culture but so rewarding.

      • wow! I just never think seedy side of things associated with Tel Aviv..shows what little I know. Israel, Turkey, and Jordan are very high on our list. Lebanon also if not in too much turmoil

      • Audrey
        May 3, 2012

        The more I get into these aid trips I learn how much really goes on under the surface. And it’s everywhere. Even the town I live in is along a major thoroughfare for human trafficking but you won’t see it if you don’t know what to look for.

        Israel and Jordan are amazing, I’m a big fan. And let me know if you make it to Turkey and Lebannon, both are on my list and I’d love to hear all about it!!

      • will do. human trafficking? wow, this is an enormously sad subject

  10. August McLaughlin
    May 3, 2012

    What a gorgeous adventure! So glad Susie’s party led me here.

    • Audrey
      May 3, 2012

      So glad you stopped by! Thank you and I’ll have to make a stop out to visit you now. 🙂

  11. aFrankAngle
    May 4, 2012

    Followed your link in Susie’s comment. Any day at Petra would be good .. but I’m waiting for mine. Cheers to travel!!!

    • Audrey
      May 4, 2012

      Thanks for stopping by!! You’re so right, and I hope your day comes soon! I’ll be have check out your blog too.

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This entry was posted on February 29, 2012 by in Adventure, Dreams, Friends, Fun, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , .
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