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July 21, 2007

Visit to Petra & Moksha shipping appeal latest

LOCATION: Amman, Jordan
Longitude: N:31deg.57'21.
Latitude: E:035deg.54'42s.
Kms from Djibouti: 5,040 kms

> Total to raise: $5,761
> Total raised to date: $5,970
> Total still to raise: $0

A very quick response from some of you has resulting in the additional Moksha shipping costs already being covered. MANY THANKS to those who pledged! I hope this really will be the end of it...

Sincerest thanks to the following for your pledges -
- Gretchin Lair, USA, $100
- Sebert Lewis, UK, $1,000
- Erden Eruc and Nancy Board of Around n Over, Seattle USA, $100
- David Newcomer, USA, $20
- Jay Bowman, USA, $250

The Road to Amman, Jordan

I'm now in Amman, the capital of Jordan, about to head over the border into Syria. I spent two days mucking about getting additional stamps in my passport between Aqaba (Jordan) to Nuweiba (Egypt) to cover my previous tracks through Israel. I hope the hassle and expense was worth it. The worrying thing now is that it appears that I am NOT able to get a visa from the Syrian consulate here Amman: they expect you to have acquired a visa in your country of residence before traveling (a little impractical for me seeing as the traveling started over 13-years ago!). So all my hopes rest on riding up to the border tomorrow and hoping the immigration officials understand the unique nature of my predicament, and give me a visa. I'm sure it will cost extra money, which is OK. As long as they don't turn me back, which would put things in a major bind.


Although getting increasingly squeezed on time I couldn't pass by what some archeologists have labeled the 8th Wonder of the World - Petra - without making a short detour. Carved entirely from the exposed limestone bedrock that dominates the region, the temples and tombs of Petra were built in the 3rd century BC by the Nabateans (originally from the Arabian peninsular) as both a city hidden from the attention of outsider invaders and a trade centre for controlling the trade routes between Damascus and Arabia; levying taxes and providing protection on commodities such as frankincense and myrrh from Arabia, silk and spices from India, and slaves and ivory from Africa.

'Match me such a marvel save in Eastern Clime, a rose-red city half as old as time...'
Dean Burgon


In a short time the Nabateans made great advances, mastering hydraulic engineering, iron production, copper refining, sculpture and stone-carving. A violent earthquake in AD 555 was thought by archeologists to force the 10,000+ inhabitants to abandon the city, only to be rediscovered by a Swiss explorer in 1812.


Although the human workmanship is magnificent, it is the works of nature that impressed me the most: the 'As-Siq' gorge created by a tectonic rift that runs for 1.2 km with 80 m cliffs soaring on both sides and just 3m wide in places, and the exquisite marble composition of the interior of some of the tombs that almost make them look like Gingerbread houses.


The only thing that struck me as a little strange is just how much emphasis these people put on carving out tombs for their dead. It seems like the entire valley is just one gigantic charnel house. And yet all the tombs are now empty. Where did all the bodies go?



Posted on July 21, 2007 8:11 PM