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Picture perfect Little Petra
Written by Maria Ramos   
Sunday, 25 May 2008 19:15

Maria riding the camel


We left Amman around 10am and took the fast but less scenic route to Petra, the King's Highway. We arrived just in time to watch the Monaco Grand Prix. 

I couldn't believe we were watching the race with the beauty of Petra in the background. After many calls, I managed to track down Marwan, the fantastic guide I had used in Petra last time I was here. 

Since it was too late to enter the main part of Petra we headed to the lesser-known 'Little Petra' and on the way we had lots of beautiful experiences.

First Marwan showed us the remains of a Crusader castle situated near a church in a area were Christians lived until 1927 until an earthquake forced them to leave. 

Our next stop was near the elephant statue. As we stood here, a camel being ridden by a Bedouin and a New Zealand archaeology student passed by. I swapped places with the student. I love camels, but this one decided to go very close to the edge of the cliff and scared the life out of me! But I braved it and rode 'Daisy' the camel. 

Next stop, the Nabatean water cistern which stores rain water and is a clever feat of engineering. From water we moved to wine, the Nabatean  winery, composed of a large and small limescale basin where people would crush the grapes and leave the wine to ferment. 

Finally we got to 'Little Petra' known in Arabic as Al Baitha (the white place) because unlike Petra, the red city, this smaller version is white. The first oustanding building is the former Tax Office and it's here that we took wonderful team pictures. Then we headed to the oldest temple in Petra, carved in the 2nd Century BC! 

There's more to Petra than just the Treasury which is what most people only get to see. As we left, three kids sang a song for me - 'Baitha', the white girl song! Ha, ha.  They were incredibly sweet and the smallest one just clapped along and looked at his friends because he didn't know the words!

Our next stop en route to our hotel was the deluxe camping site King Aretas IV Luxury Camp which was absolutely breathtaking. All the surrounding mountains were lit up with small lights like a fairlytale campsite. Below were bedouin seating areas and the tents in the lower basin area which didn't have sleeping bags but beds. Luxury camping, indeed!