vrijdag 15 november 2013

The Religion of Traveling, pt 4: Hospitality and other Treasurers from Jordan

During the weekend my friend and I explored Jordan. We were quite nervous . We expected many troubles and security checks at the border, and some strong big guy asking 1001 questions when we wanted to enter Jordan, but after crossing a border (with signs « there are mines » and sniper towers... ok this was a bit scary) we were welcomed by two custom officers, who said our host was a lucky guy, and asked us : « do you've something delicious for us ? » They were joking, and did not refuse to be on the picture with my friend. 

After waiting in the shadow, among taxi drivers, our host picked us up in his very nice blue jeep. He is an owner of a travel agency. He is an intense guy, with a warm heart, and showed us a lot of hospitability. He took us to a camp in the desert, where we danced with children and students from an university in Amman. He took care we could sleep in one of the tents, and got a great breakfast, like in a real Lawrence of Arabia movie. You know... The same day he took us into the Wadi desert, to show the house of this guy, stone bridges, showing his driving skills, which gave us a lot of adrenaline rushes, and brought us to Petra.

And yes... Petra... it deserves the label of a World Wonder ! Here is a picture of the Treasury. The only annoying part was the hassling: you will not find much peace, when you walk on the main road, because everybody tries to convince to take their horse, donkey or camel. 
But... it is all worth it. 
My travel buddy was laughing, because I was so amazed by all the geology. I couldn't stop filming, or taking pictures. The whole way to this famous typical postcard building (the Treasury) is Al-Siq, and is just a cooler alley in history, archeology and geology, and will take away all your breath. When you cross the Treasury, you'll come in more open space, and can admire the tombs, or ascend for one hour more to the Monastery, the second famous building.

We drunk tea with a woman in her tent, who invited us after to buy souvenirs, but we could leave without buying, and had instead a nice talk about her children (she got her first child when she was 13y old). We also talked with a bedouin guy. In Petra, apparently, you have bedouins and gypsies. The last group spoil the good reputation of bedouins, who would never ask money, like our host, who never asked money for anything, and even was offended when we wanted to pay. The tourism kind of spoils the people. Both groups tell bad gossips, to take tourists away from their rivals, so when hearing different stories like "they told I raped women, but I don't. It is just because they are jealous", which all went about how tourists are lured into loosing money or having sex, I don't know who to believe. I think it is very interesting to spend one month, with the bedouins, observe them, see how they found a symbiosis between modern technology and their traditional way of living in tents and the desert, and who they really are, behind the mask they wear when they try to sell souvenirs, or their donkeys. I cannot judge. I haven't been long enough in Petra, to understand what is really going on. In the end, my friend and I walked back, and saw how all the people packed their stuff, became more relaxed, and didn't talk anymore to us. It kind of gave us proof they have two different personalities: one for the tourists, and one for themselves. I think the best thing I can do as outsider is to have respect for BOTH personalities. Because... I also have different masks in my luggage. 

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