I extended my leg and twirled my toes with a clockwise motion in a lame attempt to put some clear perspective between my foot and the distant ground below.
It was useless. I had no idea how high up I was, I only knew that my legs were dangling over the edge of a cliff and I had nothing to keep me there but the clumsy old donkey that I was sitting on.
I took a deep breath, gripped the small tuft of blankets in front of me and convinced myself that my trusty donkey knew exactly what he was doing. After all, he wouldn’t throw himself off a cliff… would he?
The walk through Petra‘s Siq was just as thrilling as the donkey ride, though it was a thoroughly incomparable type of excitement. It didn’t provide the same sort of heart-pumping adrenaline rush, yet I could hardly contain myself with the aspect of finally laying my eyes on the highly anticipated Treasury itself.
I literally ran ahead of the group I was with, occasionally trying to pause myself to allow them to catch up, but once again hurriedly charging forward like a crazed fan.
The walls of the Siq curved in mesmerizing waves of colour and texture, rising from the narrow dusty floor, opening upward and revealing the vast blue sky in the rocky shapes of abstract trees and birds.
Then I saw it.
As my body moved forward, the rocks seemingly opened up like some sort of sandstone vortex, revealing the rosy-hued façade. The opening grew wider with each step until I was standing directly in front of it, with nothing between us but a couple of grumbling camels.
I was finally standing in front of Petra’s Treasury and couldn’t imagine being any happier in that exact moment.
The treasury was worth the trip in itself, but Petra is an immense site that is rich in historical significance and incredible rock-cut architecture.
With only the day to explore, I wanted to see everything, but there was no way I would be able to do it all on foot.
Solution? Hire a donkey.
The first ride took us up to the Monastery. It was a little bumpy and took some getting used to, although compared to the day’s later events, it was a breeze. We nearly bowled over a few pedestrians on the way up, but eventually made it to the top in once piece.
The Monastery was no less than enchanting and totally unexpected. Although I had seen photos of both, I had never managed to pick up on the fact that the Monastery and the Treasury were in fact two separate and very different sites.
I ordered a fresh limonana, leaned back on my chair and admired the colossal monument before descending the mountain on foot.
There were plenty of sites to explore in between, including tombs, temples and amphitheatres.
Along the way we met up with a new troop of donkeys and began the journey to the top of yet another mountain. We had seen photos of the Treasury from above and asked our guides if they could get us to that spot in the quickest way possible. They decided on a route and we were off.
Getting up the mountain was the easy part. We arrived unscathed, embarked on the final hike by foot and marvelled over the sites of Petra from above.
The view was monumentally breathtaking–probably the best of the trip and most certainly one of the most rewarding in my life. However, it is not what made the experience for me. It was the trip back down the mountain that will forever remain in my memories.
A voice pulled my wandering thoughts back to reality as I continued twirling my toes above the great nothingness beneath my dangling feet.
“What was that?” I asked.
“I said, this is the most dangerous part”, my guide repeated with a straight face.
I looked down and my eyes grew three sizes.
Before I had a moment to protest, my donkey teetered over the first step and began sliding down the worn sandstone slope, abruptly placing its hooves in impossible succession over each other as it ostensibly plummeted to the open space below.
I was convinced that we weren’t going to stop—surely we would slip on the smooth surface and take the fatal plunge over the ledge. We were moving so quickly that I didn’t really have time to think more about it. I held on tight, leaned back and looked toward the level ground at the bottom.
It was unstable, rough, bumpy and jagged. It was fast, rapid, snappy and rigid. It was uncomfortable, grievous, distressing and dangerous. But—it was ultimately epic in the best way possible.
As we reached the bottom I couldn’t help but smile. I smiled from the rush of adrenaline. I smiled about the inspiring views I had just witnessed first hand And, I smiled at the fact that I knew I would readily do it all over again in a second.
Riding a donkey down from the upper viewing ridges of Petra’s Treasury is a slightly terrifying yet fundamentally satisfying journey that absolutely needs to be experienced first hand.
Hold on tight and enjoy the ride.
This trip was made possible by My Jordan Journey.
All thoughts & opinions are my own.