Thursday morning started off just like any other day. The little yellow school bus chugged up the hill past our house at 7am bringing me out of my slumber and again making me thankful that I don’t yet have a school age child. It would another 30 or so minutes before Alia would be awake and wanting to come into bed with me for a cuddle. By 8:30am we were both up and starting our day with breakfast on the kitchen bench taking in the magnificent view over the Petra mountains and wondering what the day would hold.
It was looking out the window that I was reminded of the special event that was to take place later on that day. It was impossible not to notice the hustle and bustle of activity happening on the road and around the house on the corner across the valley from us. There were vehicles, trucks and delivery vans making the trip up the hill, depositing their loads, before making their way back down again. Everything that you could need for a function, but not just any function, a function fit for a King. And indeed a King was to be present!
King Abdullah II, the King of Jordan, would be visiting our town to inaugurate the new Petra Visitors Centre and Museum and afterwards take his lunch in the house of the Mayor of Wadi Musa who just happens to live around the corner from us.
The preparations for the lunch and the arrival of the guest of honour had begun hours before there was any sight of the King’s helicopter flying overhead signifying the official start of the days events. In town soldiers and police had taken up posts along the route to be taken by the motorcade to the Visitors Centre. In strategic positions on the road near our house two armoured GMC vehicles, converted with turrets to hold machine guns, were parked to make their presence known, although traffic was still allowed to pass at this stage.
Visible in the above photo is the marque that came on one of the many delivery trucks that had made it’s way to the house of the Mayor that morning.
The catering trucks arrived and I could only but imagine what feast was being served for lunch in the marque. The black GMC and Mercedes vehicles turned up several times, with no one getting in or out of the vehicles, and they would turn around as fast as they had arrived to speed off down the road again, reappearing maybe 20-30 minutes later. It wasn’t until later that I realised that they were doing practice runs of the routes that were to be taken that day by the motorcade. The preparation for the day including knowing how many minutes it would take for the motorcade to travel between the key locations.
It wasn’t long before the action really stepped up with a convoy of police vehicles arriving and from out of which spilled dozens of armed forces. They took up their posts on the rooftops, and every 20 meters along the road with yet more positioned on the corners of the roads.
All the while I was on the look out for the helicopters as it was certain that the King would be flying into town. The noise of a low flying overhead plane caught my attention and as it continued to circle the town for the next few hours I realised that it was a drone keeping an eye on proceedings from above. I nearly missed the helicopters due to the noise from the drone, but at quarter to two the two army helicopters appeared in the skies over town.
Not long after I could make out the motorcade snaking it’s way down the hill into town from the helicopter landing site. I really have a great view to take in most of the action that happens around town!
The who’s who in town and surrounding villages had arrived and lined up outside awaiting the imminent arrival of the King. People in surrounding houses sought out vantage points and lined the road hoping to catch a glimpse of the King. After all it’s not every day that the King comes to your street.
Finally the moment that everyone was waiting for as the motorcade came into view.
Much to my surprise the King was driving the vehicle in which he was riding. Feeling very much like the paparazzi I got a distant shot of the King alighting from his car. Click on the photo for a larger view. The King was dressed for comfort in casual vest and trousers surrounded by everyone in dark suits.
With the motorcade having arrived and the important guests safely inside the marque the armoured GMC vehicle moved into position to block all through traffic.
Lunch took just over the hour and then it was all over. The King back in the driving seat and the motorcade was on it’s way and not long thereafter I watched the two helicopters take flight over the Petra Mountains on the way to Amman.