By Mohamed El-Hebeishy
IN JORDAN, Mohamed El-Hebeishy goes for a super quick visit to Petra. Nabateans had an elusive civilisation shrouded in mystery. Their origin is obscure, their writing ambiguous, and their monuments left bare of any depictions. Stretching to cover present-day Jordan as well as the Sinai Peninsula, the Nabatean Empire flourished, depending mainly on trade. Being the good businessmen that they were, Nabateans guarded the origin of their goods and the caravan routes with their lives. Caravanning through the harsh desert required excellent and meticulous preparation. Consequently, the Nabateans built a number of stations to be used as rest houses and replenished goods and supplies. Today, such sites can be visited in Sinai.
By the first century BC, the Nabatean civilisation had reached its zenith, when they built their splendid capital Petra, a city literally carved out of a mountain's rocks. Leaving Cairo and reaching the red-rose city, as nicked by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt when he discovered the lost city in 1812, is not a perilous journey. Drive you car until the Red Sea port of Nuweiba, where you can take the ferry and cross the Gulf of Aqaba heading to Jordan. Two ferries run on a daily bases, except for Saturday when only one operates. You can either go for the speedy one that cuts the whole trip in a little less than an hour, or if you are more into contemplating the scenery and want to enjoy the journey, take the slower ferry with an estimated trip duration of a couple of hours. Once you land safely in Aqaba, look for a taxi to Petra, or perhaps you may opt for a night in the busy port and head to the historical site fresh in the morning.
Arab Bridge Maritime Company runs the ferry between Nuweiba and Aqaba. For details, visit http:// www.abmaritime.com.jo/www.abmaritime.com.jo//i>
photo: Ghada Kabesh