|Great! Boiled eggs, white goat's cheese, instant coffee, and pita bread for breakfast - again! I know, I know. It sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Well hell ya! And it was for the first 16 times, but it's getting a little old now. I suppose I can't knock it too hard - it's included with every hotel, so there's no extra meal to buy, but I have run out of creative ideas on how to arrange those items differently so that I at least FEEL like I am having a different culinary experience. Now if I spread the cheese with my left hand this time, maybe...
All things told, it's really not that bad. And I think I might have taken off a kilo or two since Europe. Boy, that place didn't help in the density area, let me tell you. On the other hand, now that we are starting to stare down the barrel of the end of our trip, I must admit that I have been dreaming of my Sunday morning soft poached eggs on an English muffin with a few nice slices of bacon and a glass of fresh OJ with a decent coffee. That's one of the first things I'm gonna do when I get back - that and slip on a pair of jeans. That last one might seem silly, but you have no idea how much you miss the feel of a good old pair of jeans just out of the dryer after you haven't worn any for 14 months. I suppose I arranged some challenges for myself without ever knowing I was arranging them.
Actually, it's a strange feeling to know that there are 14 months behind us and only 4 more ahead. We're almost feeling, well, sad. Even though everything is great, there is something about having less ahead of you than more. Wednesday. Over the hump. Middle age crisis. You know what I mean, all of those things that make you think that just maybe you've peaked and that, well, everything from here on in will just be OK, and there's not much left to blow your socks off. Of course, I know that's silly, and even when we get back, there will be so much more. So much more life to explore and live, but in different ways and with different things. Even different people! Hell, Catherine will be having a baby in just a couple of weeks now, and that will change the world.
And then you walk the 1.2 km down the narrow siq at the entrance to Petra, and slowly, the magnificent treasury peeks at you from around the corner, gently revealing itself as you try to wipe the sand from your lip as you walk because you've been dragging your jaw in awe. The treasury, standing alone, is simple beauty. I suppose it has much more of a romantic feeling as you approach it (actually, it's more Greek than roman) because of the Indiana Jones movies, but still, I think it does deserve the credit. So well hidden is the city in general, and so magnificently carved are all the hidden facades, that the place does feel like an Arabian fairy tale - like magic happens here - and indeed, like there might be treasure everywhere. However, unlike the movies, the insides of these temples and tombs are rather stark and featureless, leaving the hard work to their exterior facades. Equally significant are the construction techniques. All were carved from the top down, so as to avoid breaking any work below (there's only one shot at it when you are carving a mountain, you can't really add things back) and so as to provide a working platform as the work progressed. Ingenious really. When it's complete, you can't figure this out very easily.
I was still under the weather a bit so I opted out of the climb to the monastery but Kristine went, and I satisfied myself with the Byzantine church and it's mosaics as well as a few other tombs. On my way out, I eventually hung around long enough for the Bedouins to stop trying to sell me horse rides, and to have a real conversation. Most wanted me to try and exchange Pounds for Dinar with them, but I told them I wasn't English. They were intrigued with Canada. All they knew about it was that it was very beautiful, and that the people were extremely fair and polite. "Good people!" they all said in unison. They even used the word extremely. To them, is seemed like some far off land where the food is plentiful and good, where there is gainful and meaningful work you can be satisfied with, and where you can live out your life in peace and harmony. Sounds about right. And this was another lesson for me about how lucky we are to have simply been born as we were. It's that simple.
On the other hand, Jordan is not a poor country. There are many that don't have much, but it isn't like Egypt, and the value of the Dinar is more than a Euro or a USD. Quite strange for a country with very little oil in the region. The reason is more about stability. Jordan's neighbours (Egypt, Israel, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi) pretty much place it at the centre of the Middle East, yet it is arguably the most stable of these countries, and I think for this reason, the economy hums. Political stability draws in the investment. So things like garment manufacturing and other types of light manufacturing are big here owing to foreign investment.
Tourism and Petra specifically, is also a big card. And after a day at Petra, one can easily see why. It is one of those places you dream of seeing all your life, and all of a sudden you are standing there not believing that you are there. On my own, sitting in front of the treasury for a half hour or so, listening to the grunts of the camels, was peace itself.