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Published: November 11th 2018
We'd checked out options for trips to Wadi Rum from Petra from home before we started our travels and they all came in at lots of silly $US prices. And I mean really, really silly prices. Surely it could be done cheaper once we were there? And indeed it could. Our wonderful hotel Mr Fixerman had it all sorted for us within minutes, though it all seemed a bit random - give the bus man so much, the jeep man this much and the taxi man that much and not a dinar more! OK then .... So, another early get-up (I was getting a bit fed up of these now but Steve had warned me the first few weeks of our travels would be a bit 'full on') and a 4.15 am alarm had us ready at the hotel reception waiting for the bus pick up, packed breakfast box in hand because the hotel restaurant wasn't open for serving yet. I didn't blame them.
We were joined by another couple from our hotel and the minibus that picked us up was punctual at 6.00 am. As the bus called at various hotels we gradually filled up with other travellers, some with overnight bags as they were doing the 'night under the stars in a Bedouin tent' thing that I had decided I could live without, and others with multiple suitcases because they were moving on elsewhere afterwards and had no other choice. The people and the luggage didn't really fit but every inch of available space was made use of. Two young boys were the last to board and they occupied the top of two suitcases crammed into the aisle. It wasn't until one of them almost fell out of the door that we realised they belonged to the guy who was already on the bus when we got on and was, supposedly, our 'trip organiser'. He wasn't doing a very good job but he did send one of the boys to get a tear-and-share flatbread that was warm, crusty and delicious and we passed it back and forth with no thought of dirty fingers or shared germs!
We stopped once for a comfort break and our 'organiser' made to set off without doing a head count and it was only thanks to another passenger that we didn't leave one guy behind. We were a bunch of mixed nationalities (French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian) and we arrived in Wadi Rum after about 2 and a half hours. After having our Jordan Pass stamped our 'organiser' allocated us all to jeeps in a rather haphazard basis, but I think the length of our trip was actually the determining factor.
We were the only two in our jeep and, after a rather strange telephone call between some unknown person on the other end of the line and Steve and a somewhat ungainly clamber into the (very high for my little legs) rear of the jeep, the driver took off at a great rate of knots that had me clinging on to the back of the seat for fear of bouncing out over the side. We bumped across the uneven terrain until we caught up with another vehicle and came to a skidding stop. Well, I hoped my back would survive this escapade! It turned out that the driver's haste to catch up was because he didn't speak a word of English and he needed to rendezvous with his cousin who was driving the jeep in front and could! The telephone call was meant to be an explanation that that was what was about to happen, but something got lost in translation ...
I took quite a fancy to the cousin who was of Bedouin background and was impeccably dressed in the traditional garb. He was very interesting and informative and gave us all the history to Wadi Rum, from times past when the area was populated with trees and lions, to its current arid state with camels and goats dotting the landscape and not much else. I eventually managed to join Steve at the top of a steep sand-dune 'for the view' but it was very hard work on shifting sand in bare feet and probably not worth the effort. We saw the Seven Somethings (again, lost in translation), the rocks with carvings of the animal population from times past and where camel rides were available for those who wanted them, a not-very-accurate carving of Lawrence of Arabia, the various areas that had been used as film sets for such films as 'Martian' with Matt Damon (oooh Matt Damon ...) and lots of others that I didn't know because they didn't star Matt Damon in them. Shooting was taking place for a new film called 'Aladdin' starring Will Smith. We saw the various camps used for the night-under-the-stars experience that some had opted for though I quite liked the look of the 'pod' camp which had, thankfully, been fully booked when Steve investigated them as a possibility months previously. Singing songs around a camp fire in the freezing cold just isn't my thing!
For all of this we bounced around for miles on the hard, rocky terrain in the back of a jeep literally held together with sticky tape in some places and clearly not built with passenger comfort as the main feature. Suspension and padding were not words that would be used in the sales literature! Nevertheless the experience was good fun and one not to be missed given we were so close.
We were taken back to a petrol station forecourt in the middle of nowhere. This was, apparently, where we would get our taxi back to Petra. Wadi Rum seemingly doesn't run to a taxi service so the taxi had to come all the way from Petra to pick us up and the jeep driver was somewhat cross that he was five minutes late (after a very long journey to get there!). Our return journey was uneventful and comfortable in the back of a modern car with shock absorbers and air-conditioning! We did pass a camel lying down in the back of a flat-bed truck looking quite unperturbed by the experience and a horse standing up in the back of a trailer just taking it all in its stride. I suspect their rides were more comfortable than our jeep experience!
We managed to have a bit of a lie-in the following day, not getting up until 8.30 am. Yay - get us! Following breakfast we had a steady morning getting ready for the bus journey back to Amman. We went down to check-out at mid-day but our Mr Fixerman insisted we keep the room until 4.00 pm, even though we didn't really need it. What can you do? We had a stroll round town and returned to the Petra Visitor Centre, eating an ice-cream in the searing heat and buying a trinket or two in the nearby shops. We finally left our room at the hotel at 4.00 pm, feeling a bit mean because the maid wanted to clean our room and she couldn't go home until it was done. We'd had a lovely time and had really enjoyed ourselves but it was time to head back to the city.
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