Natania Reid ‘24, recounts a camel bonding experience and an amazing visit to Petra.
The idea of a sunrise camel ride concerned me even before I actually had to set my alarm for 5:30 am. So, using a valuable life hack, I got an extra two minutes of sleep by dreaming that I couldn’t find my alarm to turn it off instead of waking up. Even after I did wake up, the camel riding itself made me anxious as someone who’s never even ridden a horse, and camels can spit. I don’t think anyone got spit on, though. Honestly, I was more worried about being bitten, even though camels aren’t known for biting and if a camel had a penchant for biting hard, it probably wouldn’t be ridden by random tourists anyway.
Some camels are simply untrustworthy. My camel was perfectly well-behaved and responsible, but Billy had a genuinely passive-aggressive camel. To be fair to Billy’s camel Willy, he had no interest in biting me. He just kept chewing with his head right next to my knee and it made me suspicious. He did side-eye Tene, who was on my other side, the entire way back from watching the sunrise, and it was a bonding experience for all three of us.
After the camel ride and breakfast we set off on the three hour drive from Wadi Rum to Petra. It turned out to be four hours.
When we got to Petra the first thing we did was look at some of the Nabatean doorways and carvings before going between the rock walls. The rock outside of the walls is a lot more brown and less red than it became later on, which I found really interesting. Petra in general has some very interesting rock formations. There were clear layers of rock in the walls, though in some areas it looked like the rock itself had dripped and hardened, and every now and then we saw carved doors or camels as well as the channel along the side to carry water. It took about forty-five minutes of walking – give or take five minutes (give) – until we reached the treasury.
When you think of Petra, you’re thinking of the treasury. It’s imposing, dramatic, and generally very cool just from photos, or perhaps Indiana Jones movies. We walked to it surrounded by rock, of course, so I’d been imagining the path opening up and suddenly being right in front of it, or perhaps rounding a corner to the treasury, but my expectations had been set too low. We started to see the treasury a whole minute before the walls opened. It was in the open space between the walls first, telling us that the fifty minute walk had been more than worth it and that we were nearly there. My phone practically took good pictures by itself. I did have to turn it on and make sure it was in focus, though, so I think fixing that should be next in cell phone advancement. But moving on, the treasury was so amazing. It’s huge, which it’s easy to know in theory, but actually seeing it made me think of the people who built it. The carving is so precise and symmetrical and of course is 2000 years old! If I had been a Nabatean 2000 years ago, I think I would have been proud.
We went past the treasury to a Roman amphitheatre, which was pretty worn down after so long, and the rock of it was very red, much more so than at the beginning of our walk. By the time we reached the amphitheater all of us were getting hungry and a bit tired and we had to go back and eat lunch, if it can still be called that at three pm. Petra was amazing to see and an experience that I’ll never forget.
–Natania Reid ‘24