I’m really busy with my own stonework this week so once again I don’t have time to write or post a new travel story. The Petra Pilgrimage series is still available for your reading pleasure if you just scroll down this main page. The stories from Petra are independent and inter-related. Mix and match or start from part I and read all the way through. It was truly amazing what I experienced there and I would like to share it with as many people as possible.
In the mean time, I still have many photos to share from Petra. This week I am presenting photos under the topic of ambiguous giant stone sculpture. If you ever find yourself exploring Petra, you will see that in addition to all the marvelous human created cliff carvings, there are also some pretty impressive natural rock formations that kind of look like giant sculptures formed by nature or some sort of pre-historic god. Actually, sometimes it is difficult to tell if some formations are the result of natural processes or from human effort with hammer and chisel. So that is the game we are playing this week. If you, dear reader, are ready for the challenge. I am going to post a series of photos and you have to guess whether they were sculpted by people with active imaginations and hammers and chisels or formed through the mysterious processes of nature.
As my regular readers know, my blog entries tend to grow thin to non-existent when stone season begins. Building stonewalls, patios and waterfalls leaves me with little time or energy for long-winded traveling tales. However, since my last four stories about my incredible journey to Petra are rather long and involved, visitors to this site will at least have something to chew on and mull over while I am busy with my rocks. So please, read The Petra Pilgrimage Stories. There are three of them; one for each day I spent at Petra. The third one, however, is so long that I divided it into two parts. If you read all the Petra stories together, you will find that it is really a single rather long but very amazing story. Not quite long enough to be a novela but definitely long enough with photos included to give you an hour or so of intense vicarious travel adventure experience. Hopefuly, you will find the experience both interesting and enjoyable. To find this complete collection of connected Petra stories, all you have to do is scroll down this main page.
In the mean time, I am not going to abandon my blog posts altogether. I still have lots of photos to share, some brief commentaries to make and maybe I will find time for an occasional little story. This week I am posting photos from Petra under the theme of Light and Shadow. Sometimes I like to look at photos and imagine that light and shadow are characters in the story of the picture. Hmm… what is light doing? Hmm… what is shadow doing? Darkness meets light on the dance floor of paradise and a rainbow of color opens before them… Anyway, Petra is a great place to play this game.
This is the final part of my four part series on Petra. Although this story can be read independently, it is a continuation of the previous part and as such it will make a lot more sense if you read part III (A) first. Actually, the whole series works best if read chronologically from beginning to end. To find all three previous parts, scroll down the main page.
The Petra Pilgrimage, Part III (b)
Wadi Musa, Jordan; Februay 2013
I still have about three hours of sunlight left on my last day here at Petra. I’ve seen it all; every building, every museum and maybe even every cave. I’m now drinking another cup of coffee at Ali’s scenic café in the side canyon near the museum. I could call it quits and head back to the hostel or linger here sipping warm beverages until sunset. It’s been a full day already. I don’t need to do more. But sometimes I just can’t help myself. The mountaintop “Monastery” that I saw on my first day at Petra is, perhaps, the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen in the whole wide world. Sure, it requires a couple mile hike up a mountain to get there and yes I’m already exhausted from the long hike to the tomb. But I know I could be there for sunset. It’s the perfect finale for my Petra Pilgrimage. So, of course, I have to go.
My legs feel like lead and the trail that seemed easy two days ago now seems a punishing ordeal. I consider turning around several times and going back. Do I really need to see the most incredible thing on the entire planet earth a second time? Well, yes, I do. Once is not enough. I do make it, but barely. And I make it in time for sunset. The vision is spectacular… beyond spectacular. My photo can’t do it justice and I can’t describe it in words. Totally exhausted in a delerial euphoric bliss from too much exercise in the hot sun, I stand before the carved out mountainside that is literally glowing in the sunshine. Did humans make this or the gods? Wow! I feel the tingle deep inside. It’s a stone mason’s version of a mystical experience. My cells are glowing to match the glow from the building. The power of the universe is flowing into me. It feels so good I can’t possibly explain it. And that’s when I hear the voice…
This is the third part of a four part series on Petra. Although this story can be read independently, it might make sense to read the first two parts first. The first two parts can be found by simply scrolling down to the entries of a few weeks ago.
Petra Part III
Wadi Musa, Jordan; February 2013
I meet the “other” on the mountaintop near the sacred building. It’s a friendly meeting and he seems a nice guy. Somewhat surprisingly, he makes an effort to recruit me to his cause. I say no, of course, and continue on my way. Who is the devil in this story?
Another day begins at dawn. After a bright and early breakfast, I take the first shuttle to the Petra entrance. It’s the third and final day of my Petra pilgrimage and once again I am one of the first visitors to reach the Siq. By now, of course, I should be expecting it, but I am still amazed by the transformative powers of that mile long crack in the earth. Perhaps the closeness of the canyon walls distorts the energy field and that somehow warps my brainwaves. I don’t know how it happens. But the passageway does indeed lead me to the other side.
Just like the previous days, I stop at the Bedouin café in front of “The Treasury” and have myself a fine cup of Turkish coffee. I swear… that building… THE TREASURY… really puts people power in perspective. They did it without power tools over 2000 years ago. A hammer, a chisel, and lots of enthusiasm; what fun; it makes me excited for the coming season of stonework. I can hardly wait to get my hands on a big pile of rocks… Not today though. Today I have a different objective. Today I am going on a quest. I’m going to hike to the tomb of the prophet on the mountaintop in the distance.
This is the second story of a four part Petra series. Although this story is independent, it might make sense to read part I first. You can find part I by scrolling down to last week’s story.
Pat’s Petra Pilgrimage; Part II.
Wadi Musa, Jordan; February 2013
On my second day at Petra my plan is to make the long hike. In addition to the ancient Nabatean structures that the Petra complex is famous for, it is also possible to follow a trail that leads from the center of Petra to the tomb or Haroun. I’m a little fuzzy on who exactly Haroun was. I think he was Moses’ brother or something like that; some kind of famous prophet who is holy to all the monotheists (Christians, Jews, and Muslims). I’m not exactly a monotheist but I am a big fan of long walks to holy and sacred places. A tomb? On top of a mountain seven or eight miles away? Sure, that sounds like fun. How do I get there?
That’s the problem really. I don’t know how to get there. The entrance brochure has only a very rough non-topographical map. I don’t really want to dish out extra money for a guide or a camel. I’m hoping to just head in the right general direction and ask people along the way. It is, you might say, a quest. I’m trying to find the holy place… searching for the sacred.
Imagine, if you will, two Middle Eastern men sitting around a smoldering fire drinking tea and chatting. One looks at the other and says, “How about that mountainside there? Isn’t it nice. Maybe we should carve it into a great big temple.”
“Yeah,” says the other as he sips his tea and scratches his beard, “let’s do that. Let’s carve a big beautiful building out of that side of a mountain.”
It’s hard to say for sure because I slept most of the way but it was, I think, a three or four hour bus journey from Wadi Rum to Wadi Musa and I arrive there in the early afternoon. I go immediately to a previously recommended hostel called Valentine’s where I find a very nice cheap room. Perched on a steep hillside, my balcony overlooks the small town and the entire valley. I can almost make out Petra itself across the way.
Petra. That’s what I’m here for; the world famous archeological site. I am, by vocation, a stone-crazy man and for people of such a persuasion there is no place on the entire planet earth more appropriate for a pilgrimage. Indeed, I have wanted to come here since I first caught a glimpse of it in the Indiana Jones movie. I have seen hundreds of photos and read countless articles. My God, my Buddha, my Allah, my Shiva… my Petra! I’m finally going to go. Stone Heaven! Can it possibly live up to my expectations? Continue reading →
I never had a guru or spiritual leader or specific teacher whose message I follow. Instead, many different humans have played that temporary role for me for brief periods of time. This is the story of one of those people… and one of those brief periods of time.
I met Sunny at an outdoor café in Pushkar, India sometime around the turn of the century. He was, perhaps, the wisest man I ever met. I’m not sure if holy is the right word but he had that way about him… a sacred sort of presence. I only knew him for about five days and I only talked with him at the café. But we had several lengthy conversations over tchai and bhang lassis as we watched the crazy corner street traffic from our outdoor tables. Truthfully, at the time, I didn’t put much importance on the conversations because I was distracted by a delightful little romance with a pretty young German woman. But now, 15 years later, I’ve mostly forgotten the romance but I still think frequently about those conversations with Sunny. I wonder why that is?
When I first saw him, it was kind of a mind twister. I’d been traveling for several months around India but had only just arrived in Pushkar in the early morning. As per my usual routine, I dropped my backpack in a cheap room and went looking for a centrally located café. I found one on the corner of the main square and took a seat at an outdoor table. That’s when I noticed two blonde haired backpacker guys sitting at the table across the aisle from me. They were having a very animated discussion with an older local man. The older man had long greasy grey hair, dark skin and shabby Indian clothes; he looked like he belonged in Pushkar. He might even be a Sadhu except a real Sadhu would not be sitting in a café. The strange thing was that the older guy answered the young guys back in their European language (Swedish, Dutch, or German?). Not just a word or two, but full, complete and apparently complex sentences. I remember even now how my brain was slightly confused by the situation because the language coming forth did not match the character speaking.
Later in the afternoon, on that same first day in Pushkar, I return to the centrally located café. The house is packed this time and the server points me to the one empty seat. I’ll be sharing a table with the strange older guy I saw in the morning. He speaks to me in English. It is one of the six languages he speaks. He says his name is Sunny.