Published: January 25th 2008January 25th 2008
Camels Can Smile?
A very pregnant female camel snooping around for food, trying to charm with her beautiful yellow teeth.
Our exodus from Petra was followed by a short taxi ride to the entrance of the Wadi Rum desert. Officially declared a “National Protected Area” by the Royal Jordanian government in 1997, Wadi Rum offers fantastic landscapes, little-to-no tourists, and interesting adventure activities that only a desert can dish out. We started our journey in a beat-up old Toyota Land Cruiser and buzzed around through the sand visiting incredible rock formations, giant sand dunes, and the remains of old desert residential dwellings.
The first day we stopped by the remains of the home of T.E. Lawrence, author, adventurer and inspiration behind the famous film “Lawrence of Arabia”. In fact the entire movie was shot throughout the Wadi Rum desert, very fitting considering it was the same place he called home nearly 100 years ago. For nearly the past 2000 years, Wadi Rum has been inhabited by the Bedouin people, a large group of nomadic tribesmen who now live scattered through the deserts of Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Their nomadic lifestyles consist mainly of raising goats and moving around the desert during different times of year where they can find the scarce food and water necessary to raise their animals. They
Winter Desert Landscape
Although cold, Wadi Rum in the winter is beautiful, no people, endless untouched landscapes, really quite stunning.
live in tents woven from goat’s hair, drink lots of insanely sweet tea, and tattoo the hell out of their wives faces. While some of their customs are certainly very different from ours, their hospitality and welcoming-nature is legendary throughout the Middle East. The basic premise behind their warmth to strangers is really quite simple: today a guest may visit who needs food and shelter, tomorrow they may be visiting another family who in turn will offer them food and shelter. “Give and thou shall receive”, I think that motto might be in the Bible but I could be wrong.
As I mentioned before, the food in Jordan is amazing and I still haven’t managed to get enough. Our lunches in Wadi Rum consisted of the standard Arabic bread, hummus, yogurt, diced veggies, and olive oil. The Bedouin specialty for dinners is to make a BBQ-like fire and roast vegetables and chicken or goat on the fire. A bit different from the rest of Jordan but equally delicious. One unfortunate aspect about visiting Wadi Rum during this time of the year is the weather. It’s cold….during the day and especially during the night. Luckily I dragged along my Himalayan
Bouncing around in the sand kept knocking wires loose and causing the 20-year old Land Cruiser to die on us.
sleeping bag and our guide provided us with plenty of warm blankets. The first night we camped in the desert in rained most of the night but the Bedouin tents managed to fend off most of the water. Regretting that we didn’t have any alcohol on the first evening to numb the cold and send us off to sleep, Dad and I made a little side-trip during the day back to the entrance of the park and picked up a bottle of local Jordanian wine. The label actually reads “Wine of the Holy Land”, which I think is pretty funny considering this is a Muslim country and alcohol is more or less forbidden in Islam. Nonetheless, on the second night we enjoyed a bottle of Jordanian red wine around a warm fire, had another great meal and slept a little easier than the previous evening. Our daytime adventures took us all over Wadi Rum, including a tour along the border area with Saudi Arabia. Not particularly keen on traveling in that country anytime soon.
On day three in Wadi Rum we started off the morning with a several hour camel journey through previously unvisited parts of the desert. I
House of T.E. Lawernce
The crumbled remains of the famous British author/adventurer/Arabian warrior etc.
had to get off and walk half the time because the damn things made my legs so sore but Dad of all people managed to tough it out and persevere. Turns out he regrets that decision because his legs have been sore for the past two days. We finished our camel trip back near the entrance of the park, had a quick lunch and jumped back in a taxi headed toward Amman.
Three hours later we arrived back at the lovely Four Seasons for some relaxation and more comfortable sleeping accommodations. Dad and I made a quick shopping trip for some gifts for our loved ones, wandered around some various sights in Amman and spent the rest of the time enjoying the lovely hotel. For all the negative impressions the West gives off about the Arab world and the Middle East, Jordan is a very worthy exception. The people are warm, smiling, friendly, and delightful. They're happy to meet Californians who have ventured so far away from home and always take it upon themselves to make sure you have a good time. Without a doubt this is one country I will return to at some future date. So that's
Refuelling the camels during our journey through the desert.
it. Jordan out...next stop is the land of mummies, tombs, pharaohs, pyramids, more delicous food, and lots of people.
As I write this blog I’m sitting at the local Starbuck’s coffee shop in the Amman airport awaiting our delayed flight into Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. We’ll be on the beach for the next 4 or 5 days before heading onward to Luxor. More tales from the Middle East to come. Much love to everyone who has managed to continue following my blog for what now has lasted over 14 months.
There are more photos below