Going South in a V.I.P coach fitted out for disco midgets, no space for sleep or knees. The flickering TV screen plays loud footage of Syrian weddings, camera panning from one bored face to the next, a waxed male singing Arab love songs with a passion.
Welcome to the Hasemite kingdom of Jordan.
After fifteen hours of ouch, bounce and croon, we arrive at the Valentine Inn, Petra. Backpackers from all over the West talk Lonely Planet, and we feast well and sleep like dusty kings, despite the least comfortable bunks known to woman or man.
The next morning, I’m waiting for a tour to start, in the entrance hall for the ruins of Petra. A group of young Americans talk loud and play California Love by Tupac. One of them jumps up and does the Worm. Their conversation goes like this:
“On a scale of 1 to 14, she’s a negative 4”
“Personality-wise, she’s a negative 2”
Petra is a breathtaking display of ancient grandeur and extinct faith, vast temples in honour of the god Dushara hewn out of solid sandstone cliff. Awestruck tourists buy Pepsi from Indiana Jones-themed kiosks. A scene from The Last Crusade was filmed here. The kiosks proclaim
with the hat
and this time
Our tour finishes. The sun glares. I seek cool in a Nabatean cave-home, dug into the rock two thousand years ago. The walls have carvings that read ‘Thug Life’, ‘Outlaw’ and ‘Tupac forever’. There’s a smell of piss. I’ve never liked Tupac less.*
*Petra is stunning. Loads of people have written very well about it. I had a lovely day there.
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