An American, a Romanian, a Pakistani and a Briton go on a road trip.
It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but I assure you, it happened. 642 kilometers, two trips to Petra and many bottles of water later 4 near strangers bonded over mutual struggle, international music, and the love of a little car called Sunny.
The adventure began when my friend from Pakistan invited me on the trip. His friend from university (they went to school in the UK) was coming to visit for a couple of days and wanted to see Petra and the Dead Sea.
I thought. I’m in! No one at work will miss me. (side note: they didn’t)
Another friend from England came along as well so I had a girl buddy to bond with. Turns out she’s my British evil twin and together she and I will rule the galaxy with a series of ‘that’s what she said’ jokes, whiskey, and caffeinated beverages.
We stopped for lunch at the Dead Sea which was great, because few tourists were out and about. The Dead Sea is always bigger than I remember it and I couldn’t keep the grin off my face as I explained the things we were seeing, the country over the water (the West Bank) and soaking in the scenery as we drove down the King’s Highway.
Through the desert landscape we twisted and turned, driving through small villages with barking dogs and kids playing football in the street with our music blaring. We got almost lost a couple times but directions from nice locals quickly put us back on track.
We got to our hostel (sadly I’ve broken my streak of staying at the Cleopetra… this hostel was ok, but it wasn’t the Cleo) and rushed down to the entrance of Petra where we bought tickets for Petra by Night, which I’ve been to once before. The walk into the deep canyon leading into Petra (the Siq) was fun to tread once again- making new memories with new (and very funny) friends and having fun popping out of dark corners to scare them. Hehe!
Petra by Night is definitely worth seeing, but Petra by day is what wakes my inner child and causes adult me to run around like a crazed mountain goat geeking out over everything- camels, Bedouins, shiny souvenirs probably made by little Chinese kids, rocks, sand, flowers, and all the crazy big buildings carved out of stone that make up the city of Petra.
Some people visit Petra once or twice and are good- me? Not so much. This was trip number 5 and I continue to find new things to see, new trails to explore, and continue to be amazed by this extraordinary place. Going with two new friends who had never been before was also very fun as I got to share a bit of my limited knowledge about the place with them while we tramped around taking pictures and making friends with the local wildlife.
We met a nice couple from Holland whom we hiked with for a bit, rounding off our very international group of adventurers. We climbed the many steps leading up to the Monastery dodging donkeys and descending tourists. All the little Bedouin kids say it is ‘one hour’ to the top of everything in Petra to try and get you to ride in their ‘taxi,’ which is usually a skinny little donkey with a blanket thrown across its back for a saddle. No, thanks! I will walk on my own two feet…
By the time the day was through and the park was closing my feet were wishing for a donkey, but I didn’t want to part with the last few dinars I had in my pocket. We trekked out of the glowing red city to the light of the setting sun, our feet sinking in the sand and skin warm (or sunburned) and happy from a day of seeing exciting things.
Star Wars quotes (and impressions- it’s hard to walk through the red cliffs of Petra without yelping like a Sand person), Dr. Who references and more nerdiness peppered the trip. We bonded over our love of coffee and disagreed over what can and can’t be mixed with tea and in what forms/flavors (flavours?) said tea should come in. We sang along to German rock music and emo girl music, played air ukulele and admired the stunning views we had driving through the middle of Jordan. We laughed our way through the village of Tafila and stopped to take pictures (and pee- someone always had to pee) in places that reminded us all of somewhere ‘back home.’
We drove the Desert Highway back to Amman, the faster but slightly more boring (scenery-wise) route. We listened to music and didn’t regret our sore muscles. After a few parting pictures four former strangers returned to our respective homes, bonded over a great road trip and our mutual need for shower and a big bar of soap.