By Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam
Petra Day! It was an early trip scheduled for 6:30am. So, for the first time since I arrived Jordan, I had to wake up before 7:30.
Still, I didn't wake up early enough, so I missed breakfast in spite of the hotel setting up the restaurant earlier than usual for our sake.
However, I managed to package bread and butter in a disposable pack one of the Chef's gave me.
The bus which would take us to one of the much talked about seven wonders of the world arrived the hotel on time.
Before we got on our way, we were all asked by our tour guide if we had our international passports. After which he did about two rounds of head count that got me giggling at the mention of the numbers that ended with "ashar" in Arabic.
The AIPS family was not alone, by the way. We went alongside some of our colleagues from Sudan and Lebanon (about six of them) who were also in Jordan for the coverage of the World Cup. They did give us a dose of Arabic music in the course of the journey.
We had already been told that Petra was three to four hours away and for most part of the trip, there would be really nothing interesting to see, so sleep was the surest thing.
I was awake till we got out of Amman, then I slept until we got to a supermarket where I got a drink for my bread, thanks to "mummy" Jillian.
The journey continued afterwards and we got to Petra at about 11 or so.
While we waited for our tickets which our tour guide had gone to get, we took photos at the Visitors Centre.
At the Visitors centre, there are shops around where one could buy gift items, and a few restaurants too. There is also a hotel behind it, for those who would need more than a day for their Petra tour.
We headed straight for our adventure of the day. There was the chance of taking a horse ride which was 3JD, but most of us opted for a walk instead, and that was the actual beginning of our journey.
We finally got to the gorge that leads to the treasury. The Siq, it is called. And due to our urge for pictures -while we fed our eyes at the same time - most of us had to play catch up with our guide, time and time again.
Masamichi had a book on Petra that he kept studying as we embarked on the long walk to the treasury. I remember when we had only started, we met some people from the Gambia who were coming out. A lady from among them told Christine, Tracy and I, that the way was still far off.
Well, we just started, and so enthusiastic as well. On our way, we saw carvings that served as temples, dams that have been constructed to channel any rain water. The ravine had walls with beautiful patterns and at some point on the left hand side, we were shown the carving of a camel and a couple of camel drivers. It could not be easily seen, but we could spot their feet.
As we walked, some persons passed by on chariots. There were people (kids and adults; young and old) of different nationalities that have come from far and near to see this wonder.
We finally saw the Treasury. No, it doesn't spill gold. It is the tomb of a Nabatean King. But we still could not enter. Our guide explained that there was a crack inside some years back.
That was why it was marked as a "hazardous terrain".
Outside it however, I rode a camel for the first time in my life. It was fun and scary at the same time.
We moved on from there, we stopped by at a sand bottles handcraft shop. It was great watching how a camel could be drawn inside a bottle using sand. We were also told our names could be inscribed in the sand as well.
From then on, we continued to walk, climb rocks and stairs while taking photos. There were coffee shops around and toilets too. You need Wi-Fi? You could get that also.
Christine, Tracy and I took photos in front of the Roman theatre ruins before climbing up some stairs on the right, which led to some tombs. We did not get to the very top, but from where we stood we could see a part of Petra at a glance.
By the time we were back down, we could not catch up with the rest, and were already too tired to venture further. We managed to get to the gate of an ancient palace. But our remaining strength for our way back and it was crazy. This was at about 3pm.
I felt like there were rocks tied to my feet. We had to rest about 3 times before managing to get back to the Visitors Centre, all sweaty and dusty. Even my shoe felt the effect of that walk as it was beginning to open up.
While we waited for the others, some of whom reached the Monastery, all I wanted to do was get in the bus and sleep. At 5pm the others were still not out, but we were eventually allowed to go to the bus.
You can bet I woke up when the bus started moving. and got back to sleep almost immediately.
Back at the hotel, Regency Hotel restaurant was our first port of call for dinner, after which Sonja, Martin, Jillian, Katie, Masa, and Rayane headed for Marriott hotel - which was a walking distance across the road - to go watch Champions’ League football. Keir and I joined them 30 minutes later.
Barcelona vs Manchester City was on the big screen flanked by two smaller screens which showed the game between Arsenal and Ludogorets. Barca beat Pep's City 4-0, while Arsenal spanked Ludogorets.
Latin power joined us when the match was almost over. They stayed a while longer while the rest of us who watched the match left.
While I laid on my bed, sleep was not forthcoming, so I kept my eyes busy with movies and slept at about 4am.