I started climbing to the High Place of Sacrifice and it wasn’t long before I was greeting by a young boy on a donkey who watched me huff and puff my way up the steps. When I reached the area where he was waiting he asked,
“No, I don’t want a donkey.”
“Why not – donkey is good – very fast.”
“No, I want to exercise.”
He didn’t seem satisfied with my answer and pushed a bit more trying to secure the sale. He finally gave up when I offered to take a picture of him instead. He seemed pleased with his modeling gig and kindly let me finish my ‘exercise’ as he continued downward to convince the next panting tourist. It was a steep climb in and out of the shadows, winding deeper into the rocks. I would stop to catch my breath and talk to the many jewelry vendors on the path; Bedouin women had set up ‘booths’ along the path pleading for you to stop and look.
Merchant skills are the lifeline of Petra. The Nabataeans who built Petra were master merchants. They achieved this title due to their monopoly on the caravan spice trade that involved China, Egypt, Greece, and India and passed from the Arabian interior to the coast. The Bedouin people around Petra have mercantilism in their blood. Camels, horse & buggy, donkey, postcards, jewelry, tea; it felt like a modern day market within a historical market.
In an effort to bring you a different view of Petra – I’m focusing on the roots of Petra – the merchants.
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