Happiness Moments: Petra

So a new little writing experiment for the blog. I’ve been wanting to find a way to do some free writing as practice. And I’ve been wanting to capture the moments in my life that have brought me true happiness. I need that little pick me up right now with everything going on in the world and no real chance to travel. So, some writing about happy moments in my life, hope they bring you a little happiness too.

Happiness Moments: Petra                                                                                                         10/5/2020

Standing in front of the Treasury Building in Petra

Media often gets a bad name, movies to a degree and television to a much larger degree.  They are often considered low-brow entertainment compared to reading, theater or opera.  However the thing that people forget is that all entertainment is also information.  And information can be beneficial, I’ve certainly benefited from this information.  Back in the 90s, Red Barron frozen pizza ran an ad campaign where they sent a guy dressed as the Red Barron out to grocery stores with a dozen roses.  If you saw him and said, Red Barron take me away, he would give, to whom they expected to be a housewife, the dozen roses and you’d win $250 in grocery gift certificates.  So while I was shopping one afternoon, I saw a guy with a bomber jacket, big red scarf and roses.  I started to walk passed him when it hit me.  I quickly turned, caught up and said excuse me.  He turned and I said, Red Barron take me away.  He chuckled and a few minutes later I was being photographed with him and the store manager getting my dozen roses and my grocery gift cards.

Similarly, I found about Petra, a 2300 year-old city hidden in a valley in the Jordanian Desert.  You see the treasury building from Petra was featured in a wholly terrible Indiana Jones movie.  But once I saw it, I was obsessed with it.  I researched it, found out that of course Hollywood, had done its normal thing and the inside of the building was nothing like what was seen in the movie.  But the city and the site found a place in my psyche.  It took me decades to finally get there.

I had several incredible experiences in Petra.  The first time I went in was early in the morning.  There is a mile long slot canyon that you walk through to get into the valley that holds the city.  I walked along in the morning, in the silence, the occasional bird chirping.  The canyon, with the sun low in the sky, stayed in shade throughout my approach, at times becoming quite dark.  Walking along, you could see the remnants of the water system that existed in this city over 2000 years ago, that’s right, running water in the desert, 2300 years ago.  The anticipation built throughout the walk, and then you take a turn and there is light, as your eyes adjust, perfectly framed in the opening was the façade of the treasury building.  It was truly just like it had been in the movie and chills ran down my spine.

I would spend an amazing day with a good friend touring the city and the valley, riding a donkey up insanely steep rocks, drinking mint tea with Bedouins on the cliffs.  On the way out of the city that day there was a very old Bedouin man.  He approached, most of the Bedouin were hustling tourists.  I initially brushed him off when I realized he was trying to communicate something about the walls.  What I suddenly realized was that the entire length of wall, over a mile, of the slot canyon had once been carved.  He outlined the shape of what had been a full caravan, men, camels, horses all carved into the wall.   He showed me several others opening my eyes to an amazing detail I would have missed.  As we parted he gave me an old coin and did not accept a tip, it seems he had just wanted some company, to show his pride in his home and ancestors.  The coin is almost certainly a modern copy, I’ve never had it looked at, but it was a kind and wonderful moment and regardless of its value I treasure that coin.

Petra would provide one more amazing moment.  We had booked something called Petra at night.  Once again, this time was after sunset, we walked through the darkness of the slot canyon.  Arriving to the opening, this time there was a glowing image of the treasury building.  Emerging into the space before the treasury was amazing.  The entire area and the façade were illuminated with hundreds of candles.  Musicians played ancient music on ancient instruments, the light from the candles bounced across the façade causing shadows to dance and fade.  It was a truly magical moment and one I’ll never forget.

About Michael Kane

Michael Kane is a writer, photographer, educator, speaker, adventurer and a general sampler of life. His books on hiking and poetry are available in soft cover and Kindle on Amazon.
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