On our second day in Petra, I decided that Chet and I would make the arduous trek to Ad-Deir – otherwise known as the monastery. Ad-Deir is about as far as you can get from the Petra Visitor’s Center without ending up in Palestine. And to get there, you must climb 800 perilous steps straight up into the mountains. What’s not child-friendly about that?
In my child-free days, I would have hiked it. And I’ll admit, for a moment, the desert sun caused a momentary lapse of judgment and I wondered if maybe Chet could handle it. You know, because nothing’s better than hearing your child’s whine of “Mommy, carry meeeeeeeee,” echo through a mountain passage. Except, you know, hearing your tortured breath as you actually do carry him and the sixteen “special” rocks he’s picked up along the way.
Instead, we opted to hire a Bedouin guide and make the trek on donkeys. Oh, excuse me, Chet would like me to inform you they were “horsies.” Because if Shrek and Fiona say that a donkey is a noble steed, then darn it, that should be good enough for the rest of us.
It was an incredible journey to take. As our donkeys scrambled up the rocky, stone stairs, Chet’s laughter seemed to reverberate across the world. He couldn’t have been happier. And when our guide, Esa, a traditional Bedouin, started to sing, the trip only became more magical.
“Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah eeeeeeeeah keereeageee aaaaaleeeeeeeeeeohhhhhhhhhhhh.”
Not be outdone, Chet joined in. At first, he tried to sing along with the Bedouin lyrics. But when they proved too much for him, he started his own song.
“We’re riding on the horsie, horsie, horsie. We’re riding on the horsie, here we go.”
The Horsie song is of those annoying ditties from Chet’s school that include clucking sound effects and incessant lap-patting. Of course, it’s one of his favorites. Usually, when I hear him start to sing it I have to go to my happy place lest the song burrow into my head and suck out my will to live. For a moment, I worried that Esa might feel the same way, especially with his gorgeous melody being interrupted with utter kiddie schlock. But he paused, listened for a moment with a smile, and then changed up his song so that he could weave it in with Chet’s.
From this day forward, I will be unable to hate the Horsie song. Because when coupled with Esa’s lovely, haunting chant, I can honestly say it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.
“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeahhhh kaaaaaaaaayoooooooogeeeeeeeeeeee ohyiiiiiiiiiiiiiii sharrrrrrok…We’re riding on the horsie, horsie, horsie. We’re riding on the horsie, just say whoa.”
Holding on to my donkey for dear life, I was unable to capture the moment on video. I regret that I didn’t. But all I have to do is close my eyes and it’s right there, strong and exquisite, in my head. And I know the sound of their duet will remain with me for a long time to come.