I FINALLY convinced Raj to take me to Petra. He’s been telling me for the past three months that it’s too hot and we’d go…later…With nothing to do and nowhere to go NOW, we finally made it happen this weekend.
Petra by Night
I was insistent that we go during the week because I really wanted to see “Petra by Night,” an after-dark guided excursion through the canyon (only offered three times a week, Monday, Wednesday & Thursday), lit only by candles (luminaries). Keep in mind, this is no “Lights of Liberty” tour where you have to wear headphones while emotive music is played to enhance your experience as you’re walking through historic sites, nor is it a pre-recorded, laser light extravaganza like the kind you see at the Mayan Pyramids in Mexico where a booming voice recounts the glories of the past while lasers and sound effects pollute the night sky. I found Petra by Night to be an amazing experience precisely for its lack of pomp and commercialism.
The gates open at 8:30 and you’re welcomed into the main gate. The walk takes about twenty minutes, mostly in silence if you’re lucky enough to be in the right company, which enhances the experience. It takes a little while for your eyes to adjust, but once they do, the night sky and the shadows flickering off the canyon walls are magical. When you finally reach the Treasury plaza (best known as the temple from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), the facade of the Treasury is illuminated from hundreds of candles in the sand. A guide seats you, either onto carpet on the sand in front of the plaza, or on a bench along the canyon wall, and then everyone is served Bedouin tea. Once everyone is seated, a Bedouin musician sings a folk song, followed by a another one on a pipe, and then a little bit of history is recounted by a guide. The whole “show” lasts approximately 45 minutes, just the right amount of time without making it too long or too short. Guests are invited to linger a little longer, and then walk back out along the candle lit path, back to the entrance.