Jordan - and more specifically, Petra - had been on my wish list for quite a while. I maneuvered my travel itinerary to allow me a weekend in the country but it all came together at the last minute so I couldn't make arrangements beforehand. The minute I arrived in the hotel I marched to the concierge desk and asked about joining a tour the next day. Much to my dismay she informed me that it was too late to join a group, but she could arrange a private car to take me to and from Petra, roughly 4 hours away from Amman. The cost was astronomical so I gambled - did the concierge perhaps know of another solo traveler who might be interested in sharing the cost? She didn't, but took down my room number.
Just a couple of hours later, she called me to say another American woman, traveling alone, had inquired about a tour to Petra. She connected us, and we hit it off right away. Erin is a war photographer living in Turkey. I couldn't have asked for a better tour companion, and we were friends right away. The drive went by quickly as we chatted with our driver, Laith.
Petra is magnificent. Even the walk through the canyon is amazing. And walk we did, for over an hour, climbing occasionally for photos and stopping here and there to catch our breath. The mild morning temperature quickly turned hot and we were both sweaty and tired by the time we reached the beginning of the monastery "trail". By the looks of the people coming down, the effort was worth it so we went for it. Interminable stairs. Climbing higher and higher, muscles screaming, sweat pouring, and whenever we thought we must be near the end, someone coming down would tell us we were still a good 15 minutes away from the top. I'm not sure I would have continued if I were alone, but we kept encouraging and pushing each other. When we finally made it to the top, it was exhilarating. Photos don't do it justice.
From the entrance to the monastery, it took us 2.5 hours. And if I thought going down was easy, my knees quickly disabused me of the notion. Another two hours back. After sharing a quick lunch with Leith, we made our way back to Amman. I don't think I've been that filthy or tired in my entire adult life but oh, so happy! Proud of myself for making the journey when just a few years ago my back would never have allowed me to go even half the way.