Grace on Pace

My Petra Hiking Adventure

Petra Hiking Adventure

My Petra Hiking Adventure

I didn’t have a map for my Petra hiking adventure — my guidebook was lacking in any details—and Google Maps was out of the question.  With only a memory of a scene looking down on Petra’s Treasury, I had just figured I’d arrive and hike my way to this notorious vantage point.

“I guess this is the start of the trail,” I murmured to myself, looking up the dusty, undulating path that gradually climbed out of the valley.  With an apple and a liter of water in my pack, I began my hike with a spirit of adventure and a confident sense of direction.

The first hour or so trekking the path was fairly straight forward. I spotted a few goats along the way, but nobody seemed to be attending to them. Perhaps people were hiding from the stranger passing through?  Eventually though the path became less “defined”. I kept finding myself having to backtrack. 

On one of these detours I heard footsteps reverberating in the canyon. I couldn’t tell which direction it was coming from, so I decided to hold tight and have a sip of water.  In the distance, a small figure along the pathway came into focus.

“Uh, hello,” I called out.

“I never thought I’d catch you,” said the girl gasping with exhaustion.  “I’m scared, can we walk together” 

So just like that, Yuen became my latest travel companion in my wanderings.  Chinese and thirty or so, she was touring the country as part of her solo adventure around the world.  Like myself, she too had seen pictures from former hikers and was keen on finding the famous setting.

“Well, it’s got to be that way,” I said.

Full of optimism that we might not actually die alone in the desert heat, we took the risk and trekked on. Conscious of our near-empty water supply, we alternated leading the way. 

 “Oh my God, there it is!” Yuan exclaimed.

It was not a mirage. However, it was not the vantage point we were after; no Treasury to be found. We followed a stone path and stairway that led us to the base of the cliff—only for it to bring us to a mysterious figure.

“I am Adnan,” he greeted us. The Bedouin spoke English in an Arabic accent, with a loud voice. “This is William Shakespeare,” he continued, referring to the darling mule at his side.

“Is this your house?” Yuan asked the mysterious man.

“Yes, I am Bedouin. I live in the desert,” he answered.

Yuan continued the conversation with him.  I on the other hand, was still on guard. But before I could assess the peculiar Bedouin’s demeanor or possible motives, she was already on the back of his Mr. Shakespeare.  She was hitching a ride and saving us the trouble of having to wander the desert like Moses in the meantime. However, I was a little annoyed that I was still on foot while Yuan got to ride the beast of burden.

“Where are you from?” Adnan asked the two of us.

“America and China,” we answered.

“America!” he said with recognition. “I know America. Land of the M and M’s.” And then he started mentioning all the other American brands he knew. Just as soon as I thought his English was good enough to give us a lecture on American politics, we had arrived. Adnan held out his hand with a smile, and spoke another American phrase I knew.

“No money, no honey,” he joked.  We gladly paid him the five dinar for his assistance, and scurried down to the cliffs edge.

“We did it!” raved Yuan. “I can’t believe it! We made it!”

Aside from grinding out our Petra hiking adventure, the sight was truly breathtaking. One can only imagine Johann Burckhardt, or Indian Jones for that matter, making their way across the desert and riding up to the wonder for the first time.  It was  a special moment and certainly the highlight of my Veterans Day weekend trip to Jordan.

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Jeff Grace

I’d like to hope that when I leave this earth, my family and friends believe something about me giving as fully as I could. To the people I love and to the areas of culture that excited me to build things. Then a lot of dancing, loud music and talking about what an idiot I made of myself during that process.

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