Born in England, travel was in my blood from the beginning.My family was on the road working in agricultural shows and from the start I was travelling all over England and Wales even when in a pushchair! Although I am sure I was kicking and screaming at least some of the time. ...Find out more!
It was scorching hot leaving the Israeli border in Eilat and crossing the 400 metres or so of no man’s land to the Jordanian entry point. There are no buses and you simply have to cross the dried up river bed and persevere.
I had chosen this crossing because no visa was needed to enter Jordan from here and I could catch the bus up to Wadi Musa, the closest town to Petra.
The officials were moping around and not at all interested in us while the flies massed in numbers on every piece of dark clothing. Damn…I needed a beer. It seemed the electricity had gone out and the computers were all dead. They couldn’t connect to the main servers to check the identity and it was starting to look grim.
A small party of American tourists were being escorted into Jordan with their local guide and it seemed he was having none of this. After a few minutes of jovial and not so jovial banter the border guards agreed to let us through, noting our passport details on, I kid you not, the back of an anti terrorist poster. What would the CIA have made of that?
Duly stamped we all entered into Jordan together. I had missed my bus but the local guide hustled up a taxi for me and rather than wait the night in the dingy border town I opted for a price haggle to Wadi Musa. In the end it wasn’t too bad and at least I would be there for the game.
Game, what game? Football of course; Chelsea was playing Liverpool in an important cup game and I was keen to try and see it.
I managed to find the hostel easy enough and checked into my cell; really they don’t try too hard here. The manager however was great and after a nice cold beer assured me we could watch the match in his local. I thought this was a splendid idea and I trotted out after him.
We came across a small cafe packed to the rafters with local men in dish dash, all smoking furiously and drinking tea. I was the only westerner in sight and clearly they thought I was lost. My new friend was on hand though to gather up a couple of seats as we settled down to watch the game.
The guys were yelling and waving their hands around so much I thought I was going to be covered in scalding tea and when Chelsea, my team, scored first I was out of my seat and shouting as well.
That was when it all went wrong!
They were all Liverpool fans; I mean how could you tell? After the deafening noise there was absolute silence as they looked at each other and started muttering. Christ I thought, nobody knows I am here and anything could happen. Then one guy started clapping and then another and finally the whole room was clapping and laughing. I was one relieved backpacker.
Within a few minutes the opposition had scored and I became a figure of fun once again, I ordered more tea to use as a weapon should the need arise but It was so good I drank it instead.
Liverpool won the match and the Jordanian football gods were appeased, I retired back to the hostel after many goodbyes, welcome to my country and solid sincere handshakes.
Sorry, this was meant to be about Petra. I just got carried away.
It’s just a short walk to the bottom of the valley from Wadi Musa to the gate and ticket office for Petra. I had started early, which was the best advice, and headed through the lower valley to the narrow passage that is the Siq. Tourists on mules and horses passed me by going far too quickly to savour the moment and the fascinating stone carvings and decorations that line the route to the entrance.
It seems that most visitors are in groups and the number of backpackers was minimal to say the least. Still by ducking around them it was possible to have some great space on your own to explore a bit and let the mind and imagination run.
Several years ago some tourists drowned in the Siq when it flooded and a series of small dams now block the main waterways, sad.
The moment had arrived; I timed my final spurt through the narrow passage and held my breath as I knew I was coming upon a great wonder of the world. At this point, as others have said too, I could hear in my head the theme tune from Indiana Jones. Da da dad da dad a da!
My face was split by a really stupid grin and tears welled in my eyes as the treasury carving came into view. I was absolutely staggered by the spectacle and slowly moved forward into the hidden valley.