The next day, Petra proper. In a word, Wow. And maybe lets use that word once more – wow. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is a 1.2km long gorge with 80m cliffs towering above it. It truly felt out of this world, and most like a Star Wars set. I didn’t know so many shades of brown, red and orange existed – the swirls of colour so deep and vibrant.
The human aspect – that buildings carved into and out of the rock faces; the Treasury, temples, alters, amphitheaters, tombs were no doubt speculator, but the natural beauty of the site was what got me the most.
We climbed up to the Monastery, and it was worth the extra effort – great views on the way, and another Treasury type building, but at least for us, it was away from the main crowds.
Though we generally stayed in a group during the day a few times I walked off, or sat by myself, just taking in everything around me. It truly is a special place, and being somewhere so vast, knowing you are but a small insignificant ant sized dot, personally, made me feel very humbled and at peace – just what my soul needed.
Though I don’t mention it much here, Hong Kong was on my mind a lot, and each evening I spent time catching up on the news and during the day would take a few moments for myself , to write, to cry, to just be. On 1st Oct (China National Day) I sat overlooking a valley singing the Hong Kong ‘anthem’ quietly to myself, welling up a little. I was so lucky to be with such an amazing group of women, many of whom were very interested in the situation there, and also very understanding of the emotional toll it had on me.
All the laughter was very real – I was having an utterly, what can I say that I haven’t used so many times already – wonderful, amazing, incredible – all of these things. Jordan had so far surpassed all expectations, and though I was initially a little apprehensive of spending an activity pack week with a group of 14 women, with the hope of getting on well with a couple of them, I’d actually made 14 new good friends. I felt very, very blessed to be there.
That evening we headed to Aqaba to do what Girls That Scuba do best.. (Scuba diving.. in case you didn’t work it out..)
The following was taken directly from the Girls That Scuba Jordan trip report I wrote:
Omar had been with us for the whole trip, but now was his time to shine – and shine he did! As the owner of Diverse Divers it was his dive boat, Diversity that we would be using. Even before getting on Diversity we were wowed by the dazzling shades of blue that the sea had to offer, and this was just in the harbor! Our excitement of being on this luxurious boat just about to dive in the Red Sea was furthered even more when we were gifted our personalized Girls That Scuba mugs!
The group was a huge mix of abilities, ranging from some who’d just finished their Open Water Course, to others who were full-time Dive Instructors and guides. But of course, this made no difference – we were all there to have fun, support each other and just enjoy the beauty of the underwater world!
As well as their amazing boat the crew of Diverse Divers looked after us like royalty. Great coffee, food, clean towels – and most importantly equipment and guides, one being a fellow Girls That Scuba, Sarah! We spent the next two and half days underwater exploring reefs and wrecks. Surface intervals were spent happily chatting about what we’d seen, learning from each other or just taking it easy, having a snooze, a sunbathe – but always eagerly looking forward to the next dive! Being with such a supportive and open group of divers was really something special. A Rescue Diver at the time, it was great learning from more experienced divers, and also finding out they had sometimes experienced some of the same anxieties too – and then being able to give advice and support to less experienced divers, also a wonderful experience.
I personally was SO excited about seeing a tank (M42 Duster), and plane (C130 Hercules) underwater. We even spent some time inside an air pocket of a sunken ship, able to take out our regulators at 12m under the sea! Though diving is a sport many of us love for the peace and tranquility, we also know there is nothing like having a great dive buddy to share the experience with… and on this trip, everyone was that great dive buddy. Passing the other groups with big waves and smiles – I’d never experienced so much community under the sea before! And there was so much marine life to smile about – frogfish, rays, boxfish, cuttlefish, squid, Napoleon fish… just to name a few – and the visibility was fantastic. You can read more about specific dives sites and diving in Aqaba here The Best Sites.
And to top it off, one night we went down in the dark – night dives are my absolute favourite dives! (Well, along with all my other favourite dives….!) Some of the girls hadn’t done one before, and needed a little encouragement and support – which of course they got in plentiful quantities, and absolutely loved it.
One of the group, Amanda, became the designated hairdresser – and French plaits were on offer to anyone that wanted them. Hands down the best style to keep your hair in place – if only I could learn to do them on myself! I felt a sense of pride seeing the mask rinsing bucket full of Girls That Scuba mask straps – how truly blessed I felt to be where I was, with all the people I was with – it had only been seven days, but lifelong friendships had been made during once in a lifetime experiences!