THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
BY ALDA KAUFFELD
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midst the multicolored rock of Jordan’s Petra, near the famed Treasury, a Bedouin man wearing
a traditional coat starts the day with prayer. Daily devotions conducted at least five times a day
are one of the central tenets of Islam, the faith of 97 percent of Jordan’s population.
Petra, situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, has been inhabited since prehistoric
times. This rock-cut capital city of the Nabateans became a major caravan center during Hellenistic and
Roman times. The incense of Arabia, the silks of China and the spices of India all transited through this
crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia. Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, and
surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. Set in a dominating red sandstone landscape,
it is one of the world’s richest and largest archaeological sites.
Alda Kauffeld is a Foreign Service spouse posted in Amman, Jordan. As an eligible family member, she works as
residential security coordinator at the embassy. The Kauffeld family has served in Kenya, Sri Lanka, Ghana and
Jordan. A professional photographer, Ms. Kauffeld was the winner of the National Photography Awards contest
in 2009, and recipient of the “Best in Show” award for the 50th Art in Embassies “Through Their Eyes” worldwide
Defense Department and State Department Photography Contest in 2012.