That riverbed once followed the course of the Wadi Musa (Valley of Moses), a valley that wandered from Ain Musa (Spring of Moses) into the mountains that gave birth to the now dead city of Petra. Jordan’s native Bedouin believe Ain Musa is the spring that gushed forth when Moses smote a rock in Biblical times.
I half expected the Wizard of Oz (or at least Indiana Jones given he’d wandered these parts during his 1989 movie) to materialize given the seemingly fantasy nature of this hidden place.
There was no mistaking all who passed through this city of stone would know of the great wealth of the Nabataeans. Amazing what a little trading in the popular frankincense and myrrh market can do for one’s standard of living.
I was duly impressed.
The Treasury, an empty shell representing a rather small tomb carved in the first century BC for a Nabataean king, was such a convincing testament to that wealth that the urn in the center of the edifice was riddled with bullet holes, evidence of past attempts to uncover the mythical bounty of these clever desert people.
We managed to see very little more of the three thousand tombs, temples, dwellings, alters and monuments covering this massive UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Jimmy and I were fully (and painfully) aware we still had to walk back in the desert heat the way we had come. Ah, the agony of de-feet. My only real complaint; so much to see; so little time.
The Nabataean stone city is still home to a handful of Bedouin families. Most Bedouin moved to the nearby village built for them when Jordan prepared to share this amazing lost city situated between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea with the world via their UNESCO World Heritage designation in 1985.
It seemed the perfect ending to a beautiful story of a spectacular civilization that those Bedouin displaced, and future generations, have exclusive rights to work the red-rose city that speaks so eloquently of their heritage.