Jordan Trip Report- Day 5: Little Petra
We attempted a lie-in today after our strenuous few days hiking for hours in the heat. We were still up at 9am on the dot. We had a leisurely breakfast in the dining room and noticed, not for the first time, that this hostel was empty compared to the bustling Abbasi in Amman. There’s probably too much accommodation in Musa which could explain it but the manager also notes that business has gone way down since the conflict in Syria began. The US department of foreign affairs put out a warning about Jordan just because it’s located next to Syria and this was enough to put many off. I had seen the warning before coming (the US site is good for up-to-date info about countries) and it had been worded scarily. I wonder just how much information on that website is hyperbole as we sit down for tea with the manager. He gets a bit nostalgic and says he wants to keep in touch by email. The cynic in me says he just wants it to make sure I give him a good Tripadvisor review but, true to his word, we’ve corresponded on and off even since I gave Qasr a positive review.
Mohammed arrives to bring us to Little Petra. More tea is had. Unused to the amount of caffeine I’ve taken on over the few days, I take a few sips and then let my friend take charge of my cup.
We drive through Baydha desert and some Bedouin camps to the entrance of Little Petra, but not before getting some more bousa (ice cream). I had come prepared this time to reciprocate Mohammed’s generosity by bringing him a few bags of jelly beans which were ubiquitous after my stint with Baby Wants Candy.
Entry to Little Petra is free and there are barely any sellers. Those that are there are stationary at the entrance and part of official Bedouin projects in co-operation with the government and various charities. Little Petra is amazing- beautiful and deserted. We walk alone through what feels like a mini version of Petra’s Siq and admire the small facades cut into the rock. A bedouin man is sitting outside one of the facades and greets us lazily, enquiring if we are Japanese. He tells us to make sure that we see the cave paintings.
Following his directions, we climb a set of steps hewn into the rock (not for the faint-hearted) and enter a small cave that was once a kitchen. Behind some thin bars, the paintings. They are spectacular. It boggles the mind that they could have survived this long, considering they were painted with natural materials. Intricate vines and flowers are depicted, with the odd cherub for good measure. We sit and eat some snacks while taking in the paintings for a while before descending the stairs.
It’s not long before we’re met with more stairs, which are a little tricky to climb due to uneven rocks. When we come to the top of them, it opens out onto a really great view. Hundreds of small facades decorate the rocks opposite us, so close together they look like apartments. Unlike Big Petra, there is some greenery here and it joins in to make it worth the hike. Again, we are completely alone and the silence just adds to the beauty. The landscape is unchanged, exactly as it would have been when it was used as a an outpost and teeming with people.
We make our way back slowly and take a look at the charity-driven shops. There is a gorgeous handmade silver and turquoise bracelet decorated with carvings found in Little Petra which melts even my souvenir-hating heart.
Mohammed stops at a reservoir he wants to show us. It’s a crude building and used to be where the water for Petra was stored. Since modernising, it has been lying empty. There’s still a little but of water in it but, by rights, it should have been above our heads. It’s the little touches like that that made me grateful to have Mohammed as a driver. He was genuinely excited to show us his favourite hideaways and was constantly thinking of things to keep us entertained.
I give him some more jelly beans and we leave for the bus.
The ride to Amman was uneventful and it was dark when we got back. We were determined to do Ajloun, Jerash and possibly Um Qays on our last day and luckily there was a tour running the next day to Ajloun and Jerash. It was pretty convenient and saved us worrying about an expensive taxi fare if we did it ourselves. It was nice to be back in the Abbasi, such a contrast to the quiet Qasr. Our view changed from the rose-red sands of Petra to the hustle and bustle of Amman, we slept.