At first I was amazed, I was Petra-fied. The ancient city carved out of rose-red sandstone was both a marvel of nature and architecture. A deep and winding fissure that cut through the rocky desert landscape was awesome in itself. That it led to the cliff-sculpted classical façade of an ancient tomb put the wonder in wonderful. Petra had been voted – rightfully so – as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.
Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?
My Holy Land Pilgrimage ended at a low point. Literally, the lowest point on land – the shores of the Dead Sea. This stretch of the Great Rift Valley had sunk lower than sea level by more than 400 meters. Water from the Jordan River could find no way out of this catch basin save for evaporation, leaving behind tons of mineral runoff, primarily sodium, from the surrounding desert. That was how this hypersaline lake, ten times saltier than the ocean, could keep bathers buoyant on their backs – “funny bath,” as Mark Twain giddily put it 150 years ago.