“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”
Joan Didion’s famed opening line resounded the air as I took my first step into the slot canyon. I hoped I’d survive to tell this story. We’d read, in a Nat Geo article, that the walk in/out of Petra was four miles and I had a gimp.
I needed a walking stick but had failed to pack one.
Undaunted, I’d borrowed the hotel’s umbrella to steady me, ready to rock star view this ancient and highly anticipated site. There was no flight from my fright. I was determined. I was going in. I entered the slot canyon, with the aid of my fake cane, by my husband’s side. We walked and walked. I stalked Petra like a panther seeking prey.
I was prepared mentally for 4 miles, though I never walked that much daily back home. I had faith and an inclination to see the World Heritage site, made famous by an Indiana Jones movie.
Remember? An adventure in which he had to choose the right path.
We arrived at the scene after a ten-day trek in Israel, where the cobblestone, marble, and steps were soaked by unending rain. That I hadn’t fallen was testament to the love of my husband. I was safe in his vigilance on my behalf.
When we arrived at the famed Petra Treasury – which is actually not a bank, but an edifice intended to glorify death – we learned that our tour group was intended to turn right – to see other kings’ tombs carved by hand in the gorge, a lengthy and wide valley beyond the initial canyon slot.
We’d eat lunch and then – rested and restroomed – we’d walk back.
So, the trip was four miles, as reported in the article. (no mileage was mentioned in the trip literature). The actual facts? Our trek was four miles in and then four miles out. “Sigh,” said the gimp.
“Sigh,” said the rest of the tour group as they sought camels or horses or donkeys to convey their tired bodies. We took the surry with the fringe overhang, bundled as if we were going on a sleigh ride… in fact, the previous day Petra had been adorned in snow.
Joan Didion had her saying and I have mine: in the midst of travails and adversity, remember this will make a great story later. See my smile? I loved every minute of Petra’s glory.
Life as a Miracle: though petrified, I prevailed.