Pregnant Cats, Princesses, and the Rose City

There is a filthy, pregnant cat that follows me around. I shoo her away all the time, but she keeps trying to make me love her. She must know that deep down inside, I’m really sad that she’s pregnant and homeless, but this being Jordan, there’s not much I can do for her.

One afternoon, I walk into my dorm room to find Erin staring at my bed in shock. Lo and behold, Pregnant Cat had made herself comfortable. She had opened my mosquito net, and curled up into a neat little ball on my pillow. When I walked up, she moved from the pillow to the end of the bed as if to say, “Here, there’s room for both of us!”

Needless to say, my sheets were promptly bleached and the cat was shooed out of the building. I have this fear that she’s looking for a good place to give birth and has selected my bed as her prime location. She is sort of cute and do wish I could love and cuddle her, so I’m doing my best not to name her.

On the subject of names, I’ve been given a new one: Amira.

English names don’t come easily to our workmen, just like Arabic names have many fricative sounds none of us seem to be able to manage. In order to get around this, all of us have been given our Arabic names at some point or another. Amira, means… “Princess…”

Thankfully, it’s not delivered in the sarcastic tone we would use when calling someone a princess, they genuinely mean it as a compliment. Yahiya changed my name today to make it “Princess Strong” after I was hauling a tonne of rocks. I can’t for the life of me remember what that word was though, since I’m too tired from Petra on the weekend.

I know that’s what you’re all here for, so let me dive in to the Rose City.

Words cannot describe Petra. It’s just so beautiful and ancient and massive.

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Walking into Petra is one of the most amazing things I’ve done in life so far. The red cliffs are unbelievably huge and the road winds through the canyon. With each bend, we though maybe we’d finally see the Treasury building, but the road just keeps you guessing until finally, the cliffs separate just enough to see the broken pediment of the Treasury ahead.

Words don’t do the Treasury justice, but pictures don’t either. It’s hard to describe just how huge it is.

Once you’ve caught your breath from the shock that something so beautiful exists, it’s a walk down to the Outer Siq, featuring more intricately carved tomb facades. Hidden among the cliffs is a staircase that leads up to the High Place of Sacrifice. 2000 feet straight up the stairs (or so I’m told) and you get an incredible view of the valley and all of Petra below.

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There was too much to see in just one day and my group wasn’t terribly keen on all the hiking, but I’m hoping I get to come back at some point. I’d love to see the Monastery, I’m told it’s just as beautiful at the Treasury.

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After wilting in the heat of Petra, it was such a luxury to return to our hotel. It’s just an everyday hotel, but you have to understand the disgusting mess that we live in at the ATC. The bathrooms are old and dingy, with the showers featuring a selection of cold water and cold water. The beds are lumpy, framed with heavy iron bunks that would not look out of place at a prison ward. But this hotel feels like a palace. I have a single bed with a firm, lump-free mattress. The toilet flushes and the shower (and bathtub!) features hot water. There’s a pool behind the hotel that looks out over the arid landscape. We have spent so much time by that pool this weekend.

It was highly disappointing to return to this place that fellow crew member Analise has dubbed, “a negative star hotel.” I make it sound so horrible, but I promise that it’s equal parts pretty bad and a matter of perspective from someone who grew up in Canada.

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