Sandy, one of our new French friends told us she had visited Petra with her husband around half a year earlier. At that time she met a Bedouin family that lives in a couple of the carved rock facades northwest of the main Petra site. The family invited her and her husband to share tea with them and the children asked to have their pictures taken and later to take shots themselves. Sandy now revisiting Petra with the hopes of finding the family once again printed the pictures for the family and also brought a small book with sleeves for the photographs.
As we walked at one point Sandy pointed to a truck way off to the north and said “I think we need to go there.” We bounced up and down the rolling sandstone past open graves, marbled rock, going on and off trodden paths. After a while we came to a ridge and looked down at the truck which sat beneath several Nabatean facades. These appeared to be residences as we saw goats, small gardens, laundry lines, and patches of smoke. Perched on the ridge the six of us spotted a small red dot below that waved at us and a half second later we heard “Hello!” We shouted back in greeting and the red dot began heading towards us. After a few minutes a girl of perhaps 13 years appeared before us in a bright red hijab. Sandy recognized her and pulled out the photographs to show her. She began flipping through the portraits saying names, pointing, and saying “sister!” or “father!” and looking at us expectantly. She was very excited to see the pictures and motioned for us to follow.
Scrambling down the mountain we followed Hissim to her family’s home. As we approached a small army of children stood perched at overlooks looking down at us saying “hello, welcome!” We drank tea, shared snacks, and Victoria and Florence (the Arabic speakers) did most of the communication while the rest of us did a lot of smiling.
There are ten in the family including six girls, two of which are twins, two boys, and a new born baby girl, plus mom and dad. They took us inside their cave like dwelling to see the four day old baby sleeping peacefully on a blanket on the floor. Sandy shared the pictures with all and they brought us others to look at as we sipped tea, chatted, and looked out on their beautiful view.