Scarred by Tourism
After having got used to taking offers of tea at face-value and happily stepping into peoples’ homes, the town of Wadi Musa came as a bit of a culture shock. The whole of the town seems to be geared-up to do one thing, and that is to provide rooms, food and souvenirs to the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit Jordan’s premier attraction: Petra.
The hotels are keen to remind you that Petra’s famous Treasury featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, playing the film every evening. But emerging from the siq, it is indeed an awesome spectacle, and indeed worthy of its fame.
Petra is an immense site, and whilst the Treasury is perhaps the largest and most ornate of the sights, the sheer number of these façades and tombs, as well as the huge effort that must have been employed to carve them out of the rock, is what I found the most amazing.
It is, however, an attraction you will pay dearly to visit. A single-day pass costs 31 JD (1 JD is roughly the same as one Euro), and this summer the price will be rising to 58 JD. Some of the guys working there (who, incidentally, invited us into their office and did offer tea without any ulterior motives), told of how the price next year will be upwards of 90 JD for a single-day pass. This is going to put it beyond the budget of most backpackers… And if you really want to discover the charm of Petra, a day is not enough. I found two days a little short.
The site itself is therefore a huge money-spinner for the country, and the people working inside will do their best to extract more money from visitors. Lining all of the main sights are a mass of faux-bedouins, plying their wares. The steps to the Monastery are lined with carts selling souvenirs, and everywhere you walk, persistent offers of a donkey/horse/camel to ride will follow.