Magical Petra

Today is Christmas Eve and I am sitting on the carpet in my pajamas (the red flannel ones with the sewn-in feet and bottom flap) staring at the pile of majestically-wrapped presents under the tree and desperately longing for the morning when I can rip them open and discover the treasures hidden within.

Not quite, but this evening the feeling I have is very reminiscent to my life as an 8-year-old. A short while ago we arrived at our hotel in Petra. It is dark and the town is quiet. As we drove in a few Bedouin were hanging around outside sheeshah cafés chatting with friends, bundled in leather jackets against the chill, their heads wrapped in colourful kefeyahs (or head scarves).

Across the street, quite literally, is the Visitor’s Centre for Petra. One of the new Seven Wonders of the World and a place I have wanted to visit for as long as I have been wearing red flannel pajamas with sewn-in feet and bottom flaps. Unlike the pyramids of Giza, the Eiffel Tower or Sydney Opera House, I can’t see the iconic façade of the Treasury Building, the monastery, theatre or any of the mausoleums held within as all of the ancient city of Petra is hidden down narrow canyons that wind away from the modern city…and are part of the reason that the site wasn’t ‘re-discovered’ by Europeans until exactly 200 years ago.

The Treasury is one of the most familiar sights in the world, identifiable even to people who think Jordan is a retired basketball player who wore number 23. Yet it is just one sandstone-carved structure in a vast and sprawling centuries-old complex that in its peak was home to over 30,000 people…and at first light tomorrow morning, red flannel pajamas abandoned, I will be walking through that narrow canyon and seeing it all with my own eyes.

One more sleep to go!