Petra Backstage

We conceived our Istanbul adventure to include travel, and this is a great geography to journey from. With pet care under control, we are free to go, and recently we visited Amman, and Petra in Jordan.

A very deep canyon, made by a trickle of water a long time ago.

A very deep sandstone canyon, made by a trickle of water a long time ago.

Claude Monet was 68 when he first traveled to Venice, Italy.  He was leery of even visiting because he was afraid of repeating what painters had already captured.  Once there, though, he painted multiple versions of the gorgeous views in varied light.  I can appreciate his apprehension as I show these photos of Petra.

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Most Americans may not have ventured to Jordan and Petra, but many have seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  The images of the place are well-known.  And photos are no substitute for the glory of seeing Petra.

One of Petra's "crown jewels" the Treasury appears after about a 2 km. walk into the site.

One of Petra’s “crown jewels” the Treasury appears after about a 2 km. walk into the site.

We had a wonderful day at Petra, and one day was just enough for us.  Winter in this region has been warm and dry, and we had bright comfortable weather at the end of February.  We were about a week before the seasonal onslaught at the beginning of March.  The park was quite empty.  In season it gets 3000 visitors a day.

They are not on their way to school, rather to sell packs of postcards.

They are not on their way to school, rather to sell packs of postcards.  Fashion matters.

We walked the ten-mile round trip from the entrance, climbing 800 steps to the Ad-Deir (Monastery) and down again.  What we enjoyed most was engaging with the Bedouins who live and work in the park.  Once, many families lived the caves. Most have relocated to a modern nearby village, but some 30 families still live there, and host overnight guests, and satellite dishes are in evidence.  We learned the caves have internet, and air conditioning, powered by generators.  The Jordanian government supplies the site with water.

The men line their eyes with kohl.  Some of them had really beautiful features.

The men line their eyes with kohl against the glare. Some of them had  almost beautiful facial features.

Jordan has done a good job in supporting the Bedouins and operating the site.  There are many vendors, most with the similar merchandise, who ask for the sale…once. Unlike at the pyramids in Giza Egypt, they do not hector visitors.  In Petra, a refusal to buy is met with a smile or humor or both, and it is easy and comfortable.

We petted these babies on the way up...they were passed out on the way down.

We petted these babies on the way up…they were passed out on the way down.

The world comes to these Bedouins’ door.  They are attractive people and many are quite well traveled themselves. Some speak multiple languages, at least well enough to cater to tourists. Jim was shown President Obama on one’s cell phone.

Ahmad with Daisy (foreground) and Antonio.

Ahmad with Daisy (foreground) and Antonio.  Daisy is 7, about mid-life, and Antonio is 2-1/2.

Our friend Berin and I had a delightful 3 kilometer camel ride…I rode Daisy (a male), she rode Antonio, and Jim walked with Ahmad, who held the lead, questioning him about his life.  He is 28, his father has 23 camels, they live in the village nearby, and Ahmad has had a girlfriend in Holland for the last three years, who is in medical school. The Bedouin life here looked quite peaceful…it seemed natural and adequate at the worst, and affluent at the best. Ahmad was one of the more affluent.

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One of the things we love in Istanbul is the urban wildlife…street dogs, cats, and birds,  We enjoyed the animals as well as the people at Petra.

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Camels aren’t keen on sitting…but will reluctantly obey orders.

A beautiful part of the day was when all were heading home.  All quieted down.  We were in no hurry, and a lot of the park had emptied before we left. We captured the last long, golden rays of sun, before driving back to Amman in the dark.

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Daisy offered me an interesting vantage point.

Women heading home.

Girls heading home.

 

The Treasury at sundown...sandstone gilded as gold.

The Treasury at sundown…sandstone gilded as gold.

Matching his environment

Matching his environment.

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On the way home.

On the way home.

We had a leisurely, relaxed and stimulating day.  And now, we’ve been to Petra.

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Soot Suits

Over 3 months have passed since I last posted here… busyness due to stretching to absorb new activities.  We have an active amateur photo group here in Istanbul with volunteers who plan excellent photo treks all over.  Between joining those treks and participating in various workshops over the last few months…I’ve amassed a lot of photos, at the expense of maintaining this blog.

As the novelty of living here has worn off, so has the novelty of writing about beginners’ impressions.

Shifting direction, I’ll show the Turkey I am experiencing more through images than words.  One of my regrets in art school is not poking my nose into the photo/video area.  I used digital images extensively for reference shots and serigraphy. Now, I’m learning to move out of my camera’s auto mode.  Seeing this place I love through the lens, and the camaraderie of the international group of mostly women who participate in the group is great fun. After Jeroen from Holland left, Jim became the sole male member…hopefully we’ll pick up more men soon.

A recent trek was was to the area near Çatalca where charcoal is classically and manually made from wood. Their market is home-grillers and restaurants in Istanbul. This is laborious and dirty work, probably not very healthy, but picturesque.

In Istanbul Province, between the Marmara and Black Seas, on the European Thrace.

In Istanbul Province, between the Marmara and Black Seas, on the European Thrace.

After cutting the wood, it takes a week to build the pyre, which will burn for another week.

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_DSC8156cropsmWorkers live in little huts next to the burning site, tending pyres 24/7.

_DSC8188smOnce built, they cover the wood pyre with soil and combustible material, like hay.

The sacks contain combustible material that is added during the burning process as necessary.

The sacks contain combustible material that is added during the burning process as necessary.

Once burning is complete, they dissemble the burned down stacks and stack the charcoal.

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This guy's been at it a long time.  We were told he is in his 70s.

This guy’s been at it a long time. We were told he is in his 70s.

This process is traditional and manual and somewhat hazardous, components of the Turkish life that can be very charming.  You can see a few more photos of Çatalca here:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/31594849@N04/sets/72157641856380293/