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Children of Petra

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Little Akmed

“Akmed! Akmed!” a bristled mother calls to her Bedouin son in Petra.

The poor mother is ignored. Little Akmed is too busy shaking down a couple tourists with his wit and charm to heed is mother’s calls.

Chaya and I are the tourists.

We were sitting in the shade of a huge sandstone cave/skyscraper when this little boy came up to us trying to sell a box of rocks. I did not want a box of rocks; Chaya did not want a box of rocks. So Little Akmed moved on to other forms of negotiation:

He grabbed my shirt sleeve and rolled it up as far as it would go. I laughed at his lightning quick vigilance: the little kid had me undressed and showing my tattoos in a matter of moments. He laughed at me. He then tried to steal a carabiner that was attached to my shoulder bag. I prevented the theft.

Little Akmed laughed. I laughed too. This kid had charm enough to shake down a scared cat caught in a tree top. He then tried to trade me a rock for the carabiner. By automatic reaction, I almost gave in. Then I remembered that I do not want a rock, and that I want my carabiner. I said no way. Little Akmed put the rock in my hand anyway and tried to unfasten the carabiner. I squirmed away.

Everyone was still laughing.

Akmed went back to frisking at my tattoos. I showed them off.

“Akmed! Akmed!,” his mother continued calling. I became afraid that she was going to come and get him. I became scared that she was going to come and get me.

“You better get out of here,” I warned Little Akmed.

He laughed hysterically at my dorky warnings, and promptly sicked his attention upon a silver ring that lives on one of my fingers. I watched him pull in vain on the silver loop, unable to get it over the knuckle.

Everybody was still laughing.

I the realized that if he somehow managed to free the ring that I would be going home with a rock in its stead. So I again squirmed away.

“AKMED! AKMED!” his mother was mad now.

Chaya and I ran away, leaving Little Akmed to his fiery fate.

Children of Petra

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Filed under: Jordan, Middle East

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Polis, Republic of CyprusMap