this book. It's about a woman whose trip to Petra in the 70's resulted in her meeting and marrying a bedouin man, and living in a cave (no, really) for the next 25 years. It was made all the more relevant by the fact that I was standing not 50 metres from her very cave whilst I was in Petra a month ago.
So, Jordan. We flew into Amman, which reminded me a bit of a scruffy Beirut. There's not a huge amount to note about it but there are some amazing Roman ruins which we investigated, and a citadel high on a hill which gives you a great view. Amman is built on seven hills,like Rome (and also Sheffield, fact fans!). Another fact about Jordan in November: it's FREEZING at night. I mean almost zero, howling wind, I wish I'd brought a coat type temperature. Thankfully one lovely outdoor restaurant we visited came rushing over with enormous blankets for us to wrap ourselves in, otherwise hypothermia could have been our new friend!
Then it was time to head to Petra, via a myriad of churches and crusader castles (castle was ace). We eschewed the staid and anodyne hotel chains to stay here, which was so the right decision. A deserted village converted into a boutique hotel, each room is a mini cave, complete with tiny windows and rooms that looked like bears lived in them. Amazing. But I don't want to use up all my superlatives before I get to Petra itself, which really has to be seen to be believed.
You probably know a bit about it, and have seen its most famous facade, the treasury, in multiple magazines, tv programmes, or Raiders of the Lost Ark...but actually being there is a truly wonderful experience. It takes a long time to get into the lost city itself, winding through a narrow siq (a crack in the rocks with high cliffs on either side) which makes the first view of the Treasury even more spectacular. It takes a couple of hours to walk all the way through Petra, which is a bit like walking through a history book. Lots of beautiful tombs and scenery, overlaid with the hustle and bustle of tourists, horses, donkeys, camels, and souvenir sellers. It's only since reading Married to a Bedouin that I realise that people actually used to live in those very caves and make a living from selling bits of tat to people.
An utterly fascinating place, with much food for thought, especially after reading the book. Questions such as could I live without: a hairdryer (possibly), running water and a flushing toilet (no), friends and family (no) and just what would you do for love? Answers on a postcard please...