I admit it: I have been avoiding Jordan. After a solid effort schlepping around Egypt’s antiquities, not to mention those of Morocco and Iran, I thought the ancient city of Petra, built around the first century BC, would be just wasted on me.
I was suffering a serious case of temple burn-out. Show me another Roman ruin, hear me scream.
Last night, I finally faced my fears and visited the jewel of Jordan, Petra, by night. The ruins are fabulously intact, and lit by hundreds of candles, an international group gathered at 8.30pm to walk down to the most amazing building, the Treasury.
The rules were clear: no mobile phones, no photos and, incredibly, no talking.
Silence is the key, as you walk through the Siq, the crack in the canyon that leads into this secretive building.
“Please walk in single file, but couples can walk hand-in-hand, and we wish our singles the best of luck,” said the organisers in their opening spiel.
Unfortunately, none of the Spaniards in the group (and there were many) heard the instructions because…well, they were all talking. I realised early on in the piece that I’d have to isolate myself from the Continental types and hitch up with the law-abiding northern Europeans and Anglos. Worked like a charm.
The canyon’s walls rise up to 80 meters high, dwarfing us in darkness as we followed the trail of candles. When we reached the 2000-year old Treasury building, performers played traditional instruments, eerie in the night air.
I spent the whole day today in Petra by daylight, and after walking about 20km, with help from a few trotting horses and plenty of sugar-fuelled sage-infused tea from charming Bedouin women, I’m suffering temple fatigue, again.