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CULTURE DESK

Petra monastery with a view

(Geoff Edgers/Globe Staff)
By Geoff Edgers
Globe Staff / May 28, 2011

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I’ve covered the museum world for almost 15 years now, but I’ve never encountered anything quite as nutty as I did the other day in Petra, the ancient Jordanian city featured briefly in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.’’

We turned a corner and walked up some steps to find a man who identified himself as the director of the “Petra Archeological Museum.’’ He seemed nice enough, and we chatted a bit near the museum entrance. The plan was to head to the monastery and its 1,000 steps for the incredible view of Petra.

The “director’’ suggested another option. He told us that the best view was actually quite within reach and we wouldn’t have to walk two hours for it. He said he would lead us around the corner and up a twisting path to that prized spot.

The director looked legit. But looks can be deceiving. Because within a few minutes, he had led us to his pal, a guy who sells tea and coffee out of a couple of caves. Together, they tried to sell us silvery Roman coins supposedly found on the site. When we declined, the “director’’ went into donkey rental mode. He asked if we wanted to rent one from another buddy so that we wouldn’t have to walk to the monastery. No thanks, we told him. That didn’t totally throw him. He grumbled and headed down the path, most likely to share more scholarship with unsuspecting tourists. I did end up climbing the 1,000 steps. Here’s what I found at the top.