Oct. 20-21: Petra

We watched a very tender and touching Jordanian movie last night – Captain Abu Raed. I recommend it highly and gave copy to a hotel employee who expressed great interest and implied how hard it is to find and pay for DVDs here. Perhaps I’ve been duped, but I choose to believe him.

Today we walked through the breathtaking Nabatean site of Petra. You don’t need me to tell you it’s history. I will just say that both the beauty of the natural sandstone and the extraordinary carvings of dwellings, tombs and ritual spaces were way beyond what I expected.

I know a little girl in Toronto named Petra whom I promised I would bring a stone. I have a lovely selection of stones of many colours – reminiscent of the striations in the mesas of Abiquiu in New Mexico.

This is our pious and liberal and most knowledgeable and generous guide, Hassan. I will be very sorry to say goodbye tomorrow. He is with 88-year old Paul Ortega from San Francisco, the oldest and most enthusiastic and vigorous among us.

Much more to say but must pack for early departure for Cairo and the main part of the trip.

Continue to be fascinated with Arabic and Islamic culture. Realize how all stereotypes do a discredit to complex reality. Need more open-minded exposure to people and their arts. But what about their understanding of us. Are there limits to possibility?

Hussan and me

Here I am with Hassan, a self-declared feminist whose wife is fully covered. What does he really think of me and our group. Do the Jordanians with daily exposure to westerners have a better or worse view than those with no exposure. When we asked about visiting an olive pressing operation, we were told we would have to have a police escort since there are those who hate Americans. Lots of places in the west where Arabs and other practicing Muslims are not safe.

Here we all are in Petra,minus Bobbi Speck who had been to Petra recently and chose to enjoy the delights if the amazing Beit Zaman hotel and grounds.

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