Happy Boxing Day!
My family and decided to spend Christmas in the Holy Land -- we've got a little apartment in Jerusalem, across from Ye Old English Tea Shoppe -- Kosher!
Getting here was an adventure, delayed by snowstorms on the East Coast and a taxi cab ride to the wrong address when I got to Jerusalem. Once I safely arrived, I was right away bundled into a rental car by my parents and we drove to Eliat, a resort town on the border of Israel and Jordan. The next day, we took a tour into Jordan, to see the "lost city" of Petra. Crossing the border from Israel to Jordan was quite the experience -- you literally have to cross a "no man's land" of dirt and barbed wire.
Our guide was a young Bedouin who looked like Jeff Goldbloom, if Jeff Goldboom were a Bedouin. There was a long bus ride to modern-day Petra, the outskirts of which are a plain-looking town. Then you take a hike through some canyons, beautiful and unreal:
There's carvings and tombs in the rocks, which is lovely and unusual in and of itself. Then, you turn a corner, and oh
Yeah, that's carved INTO the rock, people.
It's kind of like beautiful American Southwestern canyons COMBINED WITH beautiful Hellenistic ruins with a little bit of ambitious Egyptian tributes to the dead thrown in, for good measure. Those Nabateans could make some beautiful shit.
Being me, I got distracted by the animals.
No, not the camels. The cats!
Totally cute, undernourished, and clearly diseased, apparently they're kept around to keep lizards and scorpions away from the tourist areas that sell souvenirs. Sniff! I want to take them all home. Because yes, I'm one of those crazies that cares more about cats than people.
However, the donkeys and horses that give rides through the canyon have an open-to-the-public clinic sponsored by Princess Alia, so there's for sure concern about animal welfare.
So: Petra. Holy fucking shit. I'm not one of those tourists given to Shock and Awe -- I'm a pretty lousy and easily bored tourist, to be honest with you. Today, for example, now back in Israel, we went to see the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum and I was like, yawn, I'm hungry. But Petra. Not a bad place to go when you die, huh? Look at these tombs:
Pop-culture reference points: Petra was where Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed (they have an "Indiana Jones" stall in modern-day Petra) and nearby is Wadi Rum, the desert that's the backdrop for much of Lawrence of Arabia, I think.
Petra was really incredible, that's all I have to say. Not very profound.
Let's look at the Treasury, just one...