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.
Click on any image to learn more about purchasing the photo.
By Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World February 2, 2011 - 11:20 am
Love these pics!! Did you have to tip them for taking their pics?
By Sherry February 3, 2011 - 10:59 am
Actually – I simply asked. As they were trying to sell me something I would say no and then ask if I could take their picture. That normally distracted them enough to forget about selling anything more. Of course afterwards I made sure they got to see their picture and they seemed satisfied and moved on to the next tourist!
By Mark H February 2, 2011 - 4:27 pm
Stellar photos of this amazing area. I love your unusual framing to capture different moods of such a place. Plenty of chances to pick up that postcard…
By Emilia February 3, 2011 - 6:32 am
In these kinds of ‘over-merchant’ ambiances, I tend to refrain smiles and walk straight: I even enjoy an occasional shopping opportunity, but not so much the hassle (India was especially trying for me). But I really wouldn’t mind buying some postcards from the young man on the first picture: he seems absolutely adorable!
By Sherry February 3, 2011 - 11:03 am
Yes – I typically ignore all of the touts – but lately I have been actually trying to embrace them a bit more and actually focus on their culture when I travel. I find the whole process much more enjoyable!
By Tim Farr February 3, 2011 - 12:00 pm
These are amazing photographs! The color and the visual angles make me feel as though I am there with you. Thanks for sharing them!
By Jonathan (@retrotraveller) February 3, 2011 - 3:04 pm
Great post – I have fond memories of the sellers at Petra… one little girl managed to presuade me to buy three rocks for I dinar … a bargain!?
I was also lucky enough to be invited back to the home of one of the traders after sharing tea on the way back down the mountain… I’ll have to post that story now I’ve read this…
The sellers at Petra are, like most around the world, very clever at what they do – it is in their blood.
By Mary February 4, 2011 - 9:50 am
Amazing photographs and perspectives; I especially was taken by the one framed with the jewelery. I have always wanted to visit Petra; your Jordan series is just feeding the flames! Keep it coming and thanks for sharing your work.