The world is beginning to consider opening up again after the coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the world’s economy and people’s livelihood.
Closing borders has halted nearly all travel, leaving not only tourists with an empty itinerary, but those in the industry without work.
And for cities like Petra, Jordan – that just last year received millions of tourists – an eerie air of desolation has settled upon this city that was once bustling with the sights and sounds of exploration.
Thousands of years ago, Petra was a trading site for some of the world’s finest fabrics and spices.
However, after the Roman conquests and natural disasters caused the trade routes to shift, the city became nearly extinct.
That is until Johann Ludwig Burckhardt rediscovered the “Lost City,” (as Petra is sometimes called) in 1812 by pretending to be an Arab who wanted to make a sacrifice at the tomb of Aaron from the Bible.
The city later gained traction when it was featured in the iconic film, Indian Jones and the Last Crusade.
But, as NPR reports, you may not be able to see the beautiful rose-colored stone monuments built around the city anytime soon.
“The coronavirus pandemic has done what war did not — bring this Middle Eastern country’s vital tourism industry to a dramatic halt, and with it, the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of workers,” reported NPR.
Tour guide Mohammad Awwad is flabbergasted that the fear of contracting COVID-19 has stopped all movement in a country that was still giving tours amid the raging war in Iraq back in 2003.
“This is so strange — it is the first time to see it like this,” Awwad told NPR.
Just as in much of the world, Jordan closed all its archeological sites on March 15, banning tourists from coming into the country to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Entering the deserted narrow passageways between the 300-foot-high stone walls, you can experience how Burckhardt must have felt upon entering the Lost City many years ago.
Suleiman Mohammad made his “living leading tourists through Petra on donkeys,” NPR shares, but is now living in a black goat hair tent with no running water or electricity.
“We were renting house in a Bedouin village,” he says as his wife builds a fire nearby.
The donkeys that were used to take tourists on tours had to be put out to pasture because he could no longer feed them.
Mohammad’s wife Azziza says, “Of course living in the village was better, but circumstances changed. God willing, if the coronavirus is gone and things get better, we will go back to the village and rent a house again.”
Trinkets are left on shop tables and handmade souvenirs hang from windows undisturbed.
The people of Petra anxiously await the end of the travel ban.
Just last year, countries were worried about being able to handle their high influx of visitors – now they’re wondering if their tourism industry will ever recover from the coronavirus shut-downs.
The pandemic has undoubtedly made its mark on history, but so will the years that follow it.