March 05, 2009

Penultimate night

I love the word "penultimate," because people misuse it, thinking that it means "more ultimate than ultimate." I really love the word "antepenultimate," just because I think it's weird that we need a word for "the one before the one before the last one." It's a hopeful word, and a word with a lot of syllables.

So ... today was spent in meetings, which was actually kind of relaxing after hiking all the f--- over Petra yesterday. Thing is, you can't stop. Everywhere you look, it's "Holy crap! Can you believe that? Can you believe that something like that actually exists?" And then, when you start thinking about the technology that went into it, it's really pretty unimaginable.

Also unimaginable is that up until pretty recently, people still lived in those caves ... and in fact, it looked to me like a lot of the vendors lived in there even now. Or at least they stay there a lot.

I'll post some pictures when I can, for those who are interested. In the meantime, this.

The highlights of the day for me were two: first, a conversation with a guy selling jewelry who told us a lot about the economy of the place, and claimed to have been raised in the ancient city. About that, I don't know. But he proved the gems were real and not plastic by holding them over a lighter flame, which I thought was pretty cool. When I looked at one item, he said, "Don't buy that; it's a fake."

Then, much later, when we were climbing the mountain path to an unspeakably spectacular view, a young woman called to me to come behind her table to look up because it was safer (I was backing up while looking up the mountain, and she thought I was going to step too far back, I guess). This was the only traditionally dressed woman to talk to me, and she did it without any self-consciousness at all, even though her mom was glaring. She asked me if I had kids, and I told her about them, and it turned out she's right between them in age: seventeen. This might explain her more outgoing attitude, as opposed to the older women, whose sales pitch is limited to "One dinar! One dinar!"

On my way back down she sold me a couple of necklaces made out of camel bone. She said, "Good, you came back. I've been waiting--it's time to go home. It's a long walk with my baby." Like an idiot I looked around for the baby, but he/she hasn't been born yet. If I'm being romantic, I'm thinking that kid is going to have an amazing life, living close to the land in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. If I'm being cynical, I'm wondering what opportunities the kid will have for education, etc.

If I'm being honest, I'm somewhere in the middle. I'll tell you this, though ... these people have some amazing eyes. I felt like Muad'Dib or something. Especially when Sting attacked me in his jock strap. Wait, that wasn't me.

No comments: