I got another R&R out of Baghdad this month. Woo hoo! I went home, but stopped in the Dominican Republic on the way. On my return to Baghdad, I flew back early and spent a couple days in Petra, which is in the South of Jordan. I'll get to the Dominican, but while it's fresh, a few words on Petra. Petra blew my socks off. What an incredible place. After a year of living in a pen in Baghdad through which I have no connection to the country except hearing the call to prayer on the car radio, it was great to get an impression of the Middle East and the heritage of the region that is authentic and first person. Petra is unlike anything I've ever seen because it's the combination of a manmade wonder and a natural wonder. Just the slot canyon that leads to the Treasury is stunning. The temples and caves beyond it speak to a society of enormous resource and organization that slowly vanished. The Bedouin people who live there now fascinated me. I have never had such an impression; that a person could belong completely to one specific landscape. The Bedouin gave me that impression. They've mingled into the rock and peaks with such natural ease it's hard for me to reconcile. How can a person have no fear of heights? I saw a man on a precipice hundreds of feet above a canyon floor poking his head around and yelling to his friends below. I can't imagine how he got up there without a rope. He was very casually looking for a lost goat. You'll see in the video below a Bedouin girl who thinks nothing of hanging her legs over the edge of a cliff. Incredible.
I hiked for two full days and wore myself down to nothing by the end. I got really excited and should have slowed down. By the second night I was sick. A little dehydrated and feverish, but it was worth it. It's one of the best travel experiences I've ever had. Here's a fun little video of the highlights: