The Pirates (and Dolls) of Petra

25 Feb


I’ll never tire of visiting Petra. It’s such an amazing place chock full of history, scenery, handicrafts, and Johnny Depp look-a-like pirates. I wish I could post pictures to back up the pirate claim, but you’ll just have to take my word for it. Petra’s swash-buckling pirates wield neither swords nor ill will, but they swagger about in skinny jeans, line their eyes in black kohl, and sport dreadlocks and Lawrence of Arabia style head scarves, all adding to the allure these rakish young men. They proffer rides on horses, camels, and donkeys to tourists with sales pitches that include, “Your wife will love you more” or “Free air conditioning.” Raj never seems too interested in getting me to love him any more than I already do and on this day it was just too cold to justify air conditioning. We walked.

One of the many 'shops' in Petra

Since I’ve already posted not one, but TWO detailed accounts of Petra, I’ll spare you the details and cut to the chase. This post is not about the beauty of Petra or the pirates that inhabit it; it’s about the purchases. Similar to a swap meet, once you make it to the second row of vendors, you’ve pretty much seen everything for sale. Petra is no different. You’ll find knives, jewelry (from silver to camel bone to plastic), ‘antiques,’ (reproduction Roman coins, etc) and more. It’s ALL the same. However, this time I saw something truly unique, handmade AND adorable–a first in Petra. The object of my affection was a handmade doll made by an older Bedouin woman selling her wares on the side of the road laid out on a cloth. She had the usual plastic necklaces along with four of the cutest, handmade dolls dressed in velvet and silk and with faces that had been drawn on by hand. I thought of my sister immediately and knew I had to buy one for her. (Notice that my first inclination was to be generous towards Nicole, my sister). I asked Raj to intervene (bargain) on my behalf (keep in mind that he’s still reeling about getting ripped off in Egypt over saffron). The woman told him the doll cost $5 JDs. I thought, “What a bargain! I’ll take ALL four of them!” Raj thought, “Too much.” He got her down to $2 JDs for one–all the change we had left (other than a ten dinar bill) and felt vindicated. I felt sad.

We walked away triumphantly until my selfish side got the better of me. While we walked, I admired the workmanship of the doll and decided I’d keep it. I couldn’t part with it and it was much too cute to give away. I mentioned this to Raj and he said, “That’s bad karma!” Whatever. Luckily for me (karmically speaking and for my sister) on the walk back, the three remaining dolls remained untouched. (Am I the only tourist to admire a real, hand-made handicraft? Apparently.) I picked up the doll and Raj handed the woman our ten dinar bill and asked for change ($8 in change for the $2 doll). Obviously she didn’t have change. No big deal I thought, “We’ll just buy the remaining three for $10 and walk away.” Nope! Raj wanted change and we only needed ONE doll. She left her make-shift shop and took off down the path for change. While we were waiting, Raj joked, “I bet she comes back with two fives.” That’s exactly what she did! She gave him the two fives. He handed her back one of the fives and asked for change again. Who cares, “She can keep the change,” I said. Nope. Raj wanted his three dinars back. She pulled out an old and worn chip bag (the kind you eat) that held her change and handed him his $3. I felt sad and cheap, but what could I do? I was happy that I had TWO dolls–one to keep and one to give to Nicole. Raj felt no such guilt, just pride in his bargaining skills.

Which is the cuter of the two? That's the one I'll keep!

A 'shop' similar to the one where I bought the dolls.

Jen and the Bargain Hunter



38 Responses to “The Pirates (and Dolls) of Petra”

  1. chicenvelopements February 25, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    I love your writing, it makes me feel like I’m there. I’m not much of a traveler so I appreciate being able to live vicariously through you. Personally, I like the doll on the left in the second picture.

    • jenmaaninamman February 26, 2012 at 5:07 am #

      Hi Beth,
      Thanks for the compliment. I think you’re right, the doll on the left seems to be the winner.

  2. Maggie February 25, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

    I’m very upset that Raj didn’t let you get all 4 dolls because that would have meant ALL Catholic club members could have had one in addition to your sister. I think they’re a little creepy looking but the one on the left is the cuter of the two. I’m very impressed with Raj’s bargaining skills but I would have felt bad when she puled out the chip bag/coin purse. Maybe you can set up shop next to this lady with the skulls you made??

    • jenmaaninamman February 26, 2012 at 5:09 am #

      Maggie, Remember the mantra, “We’re saving for a house.” Therefore we can’t waste ANY money. It’s really sad that I couldn’t have ALL of them to give away. Maybe the CC could sew the woman a change purse? I think the skulls would get even less attention than the dolls there. I’ll have to save them to sell in Old Town, next to your Salsa and my cookies.

  3. kalamitykelli February 25, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    First of all……….your husband sounds exactly like mine! He would stand in a snow storm waiting on 2 cents change from the paperboy! I think the doll on the left is cuter. She has more well-defined features. However, I DO like the clothes of the doll on the right better. So, can you change out the clothes?!? That would be mean to your sister and she’s probably reading this, but hey: I’m an only child, what do I know? 🙂

    Great post. I really enjoyed the tour of Petra.

    • jenmaaninamman February 26, 2012 at 5:10 am #

      You’re right about the clothes on the right and the features on the left. Maybe I’ll just keep them both, especially since my sister hasn’t even commented yet.

  4. Mark February 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    This story about Raj’s “bargaining” skills sounds *really* familiar….. If only he could teach me in his ways!!!!!!

    Hope both of you are doing well!

    • jenmaaninamman February 26, 2012 at 5:12 am #

      Hey Mark, It’s so nice to hear from you! I hope you’re doing well. Please do not let Raj teach you his ways! Saving a penny or two at the expense of a poor woman does not a nice man make.

  5. Cloches & Lavender February 25, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    I agree with what Jen said I am not much of a traveler either. Sounds interesting.

  6. joe palumbo February 25, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

    I loved the dolls but I would have bargained for all four. That being said, I would not wait for 2 cents in a snow storm but I do love bargains and when one can land a gift that is worth giving for such a small price,, that is perfection. Raj, I love you and keep bargins flowing.. Dad

    • jenmaaninamman February 26, 2012 at 5:15 am #

      Dad, As you’ll recall, the mantra around here is, “We’re saving for a house.” Those extra pennies are really going to help us out.

  7. joe palumbo February 25, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    Ah, I can’t believe you didn’t get all 4 dolls1 How sad for the lady, I wouldn’t do well in places like that. I can remember going to Mexico and your father barganing and almost got one of the men so angry I thought he was going to punch him out. Very special dolls, even more so because you met the lady. Petra is such an unusual place. I’d still rather have you home, though.

    It’s your poser mom

    • jenmaaninamman February 26, 2012 at 5:15 am #

      It’s very sad, I know. It’s so sad that I may even need to keep both dolls since my sister is TOO busy to write.

  8. Richard Leste February 26, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    Dear Jen And Raj,
    You are too funny!!! had to get a kleenex I laughed so hard!!! I think you should have taken all the dolls, I would have paid $5.00 for one!!!at least!!! The pics are fantastic, but wish we could zoom in on you and Raj.
    Thanks so much for the tours…you have a way of transporting our minds to your location and it is terrific!!!
    Thanks again,
    Dick and Mary

    • jenmaaninamman February 26, 2012 at 5:17 am #

      Hey Dick and Mary,
      Raj respectfully says that you’d be an even shrewder bargainer than he is. You probably could have gotten her to go in to the doll making business with you.
      You can click on the pics and they get bigger.
      Take care,
      Jen and Raj

  9. Tales and Travels of the Tin Man February 26, 2012 at 12:46 am #

    What a beautiful place. Thank you so much for the wonderful photos and most of all your fun and charming story……I felt like I was with you.

    • jenmaaninamman February 26, 2012 at 5:19 am #

      Hey there Tin Man,
      Petra is definitely worth a visit if you haven’t made it here yet.

  10. An Unrefined Vegan February 26, 2012 at 2:42 am #

    I’m horrible at bargaining (I want to say that it “Petra-fies” me, but that is such a bad joke, right?). I would prefer to overpay! Wonderful story that illustrates so many things, different cultures, personalities and of course an amazing site.

    • jenmaaninamman February 26, 2012 at 5:20 am #

      I agree. I’ll overpay at the expense of having to haggle…
      BTW, love the joke.

  11. Kim Hatfield February 26, 2012 at 5:40 am #

    I think Doll No. 1 on the left us cuter!

  12. The Confluent Kitchen February 26, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    You reeled me in with Johnny Depp look alike pirates. 🙂

  13. Cara Olsen February 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    Ah, your travels are going to make envious, Jen . . . Though, like Beth, I glean a certain vicarious joy by looking at your pictures and reading the descriptions you give in avid detail. You bring your journey to life for those of us state-bound, something for which I am very thankful for! Beautiful post.


  14. NTP February 26, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    Okay, I am using the free wifi at Squaw Valley. How nice of you to get me a doll but how mean of you to not let the lady with the old chip bag as a coin purse keep the change. That is not nice to haggle with poor people. Consider it a donation to better provide for her family. Tobie I’m so sad and she wants to give me the least attractive doll. Maybe if I get the cuter doll you will get some Lake Tahoe honey that has very attractive packaging.

    • NTP February 28, 2012 at 2:24 am #

      Tobie, my sister is so rude she didn’t reply to me. Oh right maybe she is out of town but it’s suspicious because she seems to reply to everyone else but me. I am chugging the honey as we speak.

      • jenmaaninamman February 28, 2012 at 7:33 am #

        Tobie, my sister doesn’t understand that I was traveling and didn’t have access to free wifi at the dump of a hotel that we stayed at in Israel. Maybe I’ll just keep the Yemenese honey that’s worth SO much more to myself as well!

    • jenmaaninamman February 28, 2012 at 7:29 am #

      Raj wanted me to remind you that he is the good guy! Had he not insisted that we get another one, you’d be out a doll. He wants praise and kudos, not guilt.

  15. joe palumbo February 26, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    Jen, go for the honey, honey.. Especially after your sister has really bargained hard for the overpriced Lake Tahoe prepackaged but cute honey. Buddy sends his regards to all the folks that left him sooooo alone. He keeps looking at me and I think his eyes are going to bug out.. I agree with you about Dick, he would have set up shop right there, got on line and started calling all the old buyers with such a hot deal they could not turn it down.. Let me see, Dick would first try selling the dolls for $100.00 a dozen and he would have moved in with the doll lady, no funny stuff , just keeping an eye on his production line…

    • jenmaaninamman February 28, 2012 at 7:31 am #

      We’ll see if I ever get the honey. She’ll probably try to pawn off the shipping into one of the packages you send to me too. Say hi to Buddy for me. Shanti sends his best with his one good paw. He’s limping again.

  16. buttersugarflowers February 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    What a breathtaking place!

    • jenmaaninamman February 28, 2012 at 7:31 am #

      It’s an amazing place that you have to visit at least once in your lifetime.

  17. denna's ideas February 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    great story, great dolls! Anytime a family member travels, I beg them to bring home a rag doll for our collection! Sometimes in some countries it’s impossible to find even one. Those are both so cute and a super addition to any collection 😉 (I also understand the pain and excitement of haggling, heh heh!) Someday I would love to see Petra, it looks awesome!

    • jenmaaninamman February 28, 2012 at 7:32 am #

      The doll is so much cuter than any of the ready made junk that’s sold on every corner there. You must have quite a collection from all of your travels.

  18. madamesaslow February 28, 2012 at 4:33 am #

    Beautiful! I like the doll on the left more.

    • jenmaaninamman February 28, 2012 at 7:34 am #

      My sister gets the one on the right. The left seems to be the consensus. Thanks for weighing in!

      • NTP February 29, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

        Why don’t you ask your followers which sister is the prettier one or the nicer one?

  19. NTP February 29, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    I want the one on the right now because I am feeling sorry for it!

    • NTP March 1, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

      Tobie, my sister won’t respond to me. I keep checking. I am sooo sad.

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