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Vagabond Engagement at Petra

Vagabond Engagement at PetraDay 1: Hike up to the monastery and visit all of the tourist sites in PetraDay 2: Hike into the mountains and get away from everyone.I paid a million dollars to have two days of hiking around Petra with Chaya. By a million dollars I mean $35, which is just about the [...]

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Vagabond Engagement at Petra

Day 1: Hike up to the monastery and visit all of the tourist sites in Petra

Day 2: Hike into the mountains and get away from everyone.

I paid a million dollars to have two days of hiking around Petra with Chaya. By a million dollars I mean $35, which is just about the same. Day one was spent tied up in the throng of tourist visiting and taking pictures of all the glorious rock carvings, day two was dedicated to getting away from everyone, climbing high up into the cliffs and enjoying the beautiful day in a beautiful place.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Jordan- May, 2009
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Day 2:

The sun was shining bright at 6 AM. The air hinted slightly of the strangling act it was going to perform on me by mid-day. We woke up early in Wadi Musa to beat everyone into Petra so that we could run away and breathe fresh air without having to struggle to peer around Bedouin boys trying to sell me camel rides and women with cheap jewelry.

I wanted to look at Petra without being told to look at anything else.

“Take a look, take a look.”

The ancient city of Petra is what people come from the lee side of the planet to look at, not crap for sale. But, I must admit, if someone was telling me to look at Petra I would probably focus my gaze upon the beat up ugly donkeys and the rather good looking boys riding them. I am slightly immature like that.


This second day of Petra was for getting out into the hills, looking out at far flung horizons, breathing deep, and relaxing. The breaking morning was whispering sweet nothings about how hot it was going to get real frigging hot around mid-day; it was threatening to kick my butt.

I knew my the first morning light that we were sure to spend a good chunk of this day sitting in the shade drinking ice cold $1.50 Sprites. There is no measuring how good a cold Sprite can taste on a sun shinny hot day in the desert. I am not an advertisement.

The plan for the day:

  1. Wake up at 6 Am
  2. Walk to Petra
  3. Climb a mountain
  4. Buy ring and propose marriage to Chaya
  5. Drink cold $1.50 Sprites in the shade

It sounded like a good day to me.

We arrived at Petra and began hiking.

I forgot something: I did not have a ring.

What sort of rubber faced ding bat would climb all the way up to a mountain peak and propose marriage without a ring.

Not me.

So, to provision myself with proper engagement equipment, I oddly placed Chaya inside of a dark cave and told her to wait as I went off to “smoke my pipe.”

Instead, went off to find one of those blood sucking Bedouin ring vendors to buy my bride-to-be a plastic gemmed $6 ring. I found a ring vendor, but he was not the model of blood sucker that I was looking for: he could not care less if I bought anything, let alone act desperate enough to meet my rather extreme bartering demands.

I looked at his rings. They were not very impressive. I decided to go with the flow and purchase Chaya the absolute ugliest ring I could find. And I found one:

A big banded silver ring with a humongous raw purple rock glued to it. The stone was not cut like a gem, rather it was just picked from the ground, slapped around a little bit, and then stuck to a piece of silver to be sold to some distasteful tourist like me. The frigging ring looked like it came from one of those pre-packaged “grow a gemstone” science fair projects.

It was perfect.

I asked the price.

The boy working the counter begrudgingly removed the ring from the holder and weighed it for effect.

“You do not really need to weigh this ring . . . it is not like it is a real precious piece of . . .”

He weighted it anyway and told me that he wanted a million dollars for it.

I returned to looking through the racks for the second ugliest ring I could find.

I found one with three blue plastic pieces with a mess of plastic diamonds scatter around it. By some great flash of Providence it came to me that the three plastic blue jewels stood for me, Chaya, and Number Three.

Number Three is the name of my fetus.

It was perfect. I asked the price. The Bedouin weighted it.

“5 dinar.”

“I will give you four.”

[Shrug] “Ok.”

I then ran back to the cave that I awkwardly told Chaya to wait for me in. Unsurprisingly, she was not there.

Where was my bride?!?

I ran around looking for her knowing that she was red hot mad at me for trying to make her wait in a cave. My good intentions were still hidden.

I ran around frantic.

I heard a familiar call: it was my name and it was coming from Chaya.

She was standing on top of some old stone amphitheater. I ran up to her and tried to act as if my actions were usual.

I suppose poor Chaya has become use to my odd whims, and she was only a little mad that I tried to deposit her inside of a dark cave.

“You put me next to a huge pile of poop,” she said.

I cannot say that I searched the cave out to be sure that it was not previously used as a human toilet.

“Lets go climb that cliff.”

I needed to get this deal done before I blew it.

We climbed the cliff. I looked at a little map and say a point on it called, “The Place of High Sacrifice,” and figured that this was a properly poetic location to ask someone to marry me.

We walked up the cliff. I wanted to go as fast as possible because I was excited – I knew what was coming. Chaya wanted to go as slow as possible because she had a big pregnant belly – she did not know what was coming. We climbed on.

We were soon standing side by side at the “High Place of Sacrifice” looking out upon a wide open valley with spires of red sandstone and jagged stone gray granite and all of those beautiful flashes of beautiful desert colors. We breathed deep the beauty together and I breathed again in preparation for what I was about to do.

I fumbled in my pocket for the ring. I found it. I thought too much. I hesitated.

A group of old loud French tourists then joined us at the “Place of High Sacrifice.”

I could not make such a sacrifice in the presence of 20 cackling old French men and women.

I waited for them to leave, Chaya said, “Lets go.” I missed my launch window.

“Wait,” I said, looking out to the horizon as if in the deep reverie of some mystical experience.

The French people cackled.

“Leave damn it, LEAVE.” I was cackling too.

They left.

Chaya was again at my side and we were alone again. This was my chance, I had to move fast.

I got down on one knee and grabbed Chaya’s left hand.

“OH NO!” she exclaimed.

These were the last words I wanted to hear. In my kneeling state of vunerability I shoved the second ugliest ring in Petra in her face to try to win the day.

“Will you marry me,” I stammered.

Chaya’s natural coolness dissipated.


She then took the second ugliest ring in Petra from my hands and placed it on her finger.

It was a close race, but I think I may have won.

Vagabond Engagement at Petra


Filed under: Jordan, Middle East

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3689 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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2 comments… add one

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  • Rachael December 20, 2010, 2:42 am

    Wade – I just read all your lovely *love* posts – the engagement, the wedding, the anniversary – what an awesome story – sooooo cool to read about how you came up with the baby name, too 🙂

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com December 20, 2010, 2:50 am

      Aww, I am all embarrassed now. I am tough, dammit.

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