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Published: April 15th 2011
A belated entry but here it goes…. After singing the theme tune to Indiana Jones for the last two days it was now time to turn our attentions to Lawrence of Arabia (or as Michelle likes to call it Lawrence of Saudi Arabia!). We were heading to the scene of one of the all time great movies, a place where T.E. Lawrence described as echoing, spacious and godlike, Wadi Rum. It has to be said that most boy’s at some stage of their childhood will dream of an adventure through the desert and sleeping under the stars around a camp fire. I can imagine it was probably not Michelle’s, but true to form she knew it would be something I really wanted to do. Our guide picked us up off our bus at the tourist centre on the outskirts of Wadi Rum. Everyone had to pay the 5JD entrance fee to get past the gate. A tax I suppose on the up keep of the desert.
Our guide then drove us in his old but sturdy 4x4 into the village where he picked up some supplies. We were still tired from all our trekking around Petra the day before and
the 5 hours sleep we got after that, before getting up at 5am for our 6am bus to Wadi Rum. We had both silently hoped that the desert trekking would be the following day but five minutes into our drive he pulled up at the bottom of a mountain. There were a handful of Bedouin tents at the bottom, well spread out, with goats and camels lingering around. He pointed to the top of the mountain and showed us a route we should take and where to come back down. He pointed out the tent we should go to when we came back. It was his mothers tent. Not wanting to have any regrets we climbed to the top, using the footprints of the previous tours to make our way up. We sat at the top admiring how beautiful and peaceful it was, the only noise was the odd groan of a camel down below. We trekked across the side of the mountain until we reached the point of descent. Coming down was a bit of a struggle with lots of loose rock. Tea was awaiting us when we got back to the tent. Our guide was dying from “man
flu” and to be honest wasn’t a great host starting off. There was a lot of silence in the tent and every now and a again I would try and fill it with a question, which would be briefly answered and then the silence would return. Michelle later told me not to fight it and just accept the silence, as she had realised early on his “man flu” was all that occupied his mind. His mother had left as we arrived, bringing the large herd of goats up the side of the mountain to a spring. As we left to continue our journey there was a commotion outside. His mother was roaring up the side of the mountain at the goats. This went on for a few minutes until I asked what was the problem. He said the goats were heading in the direction of where there are wolves. I said excuse me, did you say wolves? He said yes. I said F your goats, that’s where you sent me and my girlfriend. I guess if the wolves had eaten us he could have taken the day off and recovered from his “man flu”.
From here we drove another
twenty minutes to a sand dune. We sat and looked at it and thought please don’t make us climb it.
Next thing “climb sand dune, beautiful view mountains at top”.
Us, “Ah shite”.
We have previous experience of climbing sand dunes and it aint easy. It goes… 2 steps forward, 1 ½ back. Its extremely tiring. We were still shattered. What was driving us was the knowledge that we would not regret it. The knowledge that if we didn’t, we would never know what the splendid view from the top would be like. The view by the way was spectacular and worth every ounce of energy it took to get there. Back in the jeep (remember it was still only around 10am) he informed us we would drive to a canyon and we would walk through it and meet him on the other side for lunch. We drove for thirty minutes until we reached our point to disembark from the vehicle. We were pointed in a direction and as his wheels spun in the sand we wondered what the hell we had got ourselves into. A quick scan revealed no wolves, in fact the only life was a
More Rock Formations
We climbed to the top of this but never got a photo on top of it : (
dead tree that would be better suited in a dark graveyard on a chilly Halloween night. There wasn’t much climbing but the sand was though going. The scenery was spectacular and the high wind kept us cool in the desert sun. We eventually met our guide again after walking for an hour or so. He was starting to prepare lunch and he had found a nice corner protected from the wind. We sat and relaxed, while he gathered wood for a fire. All the food was cooked from scratch using fresh vegetables and herbs. I cant remember the name of it but we fairly scoffed it down. We all sat around the frying pan it was made on and scooped it out, using the flat bread as forks. Tea followed and then a snooze under the desert sun.
We drove again for another while until our guide stopped in the middle of the desert and pointed at a rock in the distance. I couldn’t tell you have far it was as in the desert distances are very hard to tell. I thought to myself “are you having a laugh”. He said we should get out here and walk and
he would meet us there. He then said “don’t worry, you will sleep very well tonight” and gave us a cheeky smile. As we walked towards the rock a bird began to follow us. I was convinced he thought we were soon to be dead meat. The bird had probably seen it all before. He swooped low around us, like a fighter jet at an air show, showing off for the crowd and seeking their admiration. This bird was having none of me though and we eventually got to the rock. I was convinced when we got to the jeep he would drive another 10m ahead of us and tease us all the way back to camp. That’s how cheeky his smile was when he dropped us off. He didn’t though and soon we were at our camp. As there was a sand storm the day previous we were told to give our sheets a good shake down. Our tent had no door so sand as you can imagine in the middle of the desert had found its way in. We walked a little more around the rock formations and explored until we decided to rest. Our guide told us
The beast described in my blog. He was actually fun to watch.
of a great spot to see the sun set, which of course was a good distance away. I was 100% convinced at this stage that he wanted to get rid of us. He was deteriorating gradually from his “man flu” and we were a slight inconvenience. The sooner we tired the sooner we went to bed. The sunset was amazing and the mountains all around changed colours as the sun went down on another day. We had a great big dinner that evening around the camp fire and tried to fill the silences with more questions. We went to bed at 7pm.
At 12am in the morning I was awoken to the sound of animals. First off I thought it was cats fighting but as my ears adjusted I realised it was more like a howl. Holy sh1t I thought. The wolves are here. As our tent had no door I lay wake staring at the door waiting for two beady eyes to peer in through the door. Thankfully it never happened, although the howling lasted a while. Michelle of course slept through it. I asked the guide the next morning and he said he heard it too. But
Pointing to Saudi Arabia in the distance
is wasn’t wolves. It was foxes. He showed me their little foot prints around the campsite. They came right up to our door, but never came in. They had gone into the two empty tents beside us though!
Breakfast consisted of eggs and flat bread and of course tea. After having a good sleep the night before (all be it with one eye open) we were fully refreshed and ready for anything the world could throw at us. We drove for an hour until we came to the second highest mountain in Wadi Rum, only a few metres short of the highest one. The climb was more gradual than anything. In the end it was easy enough. The views from the top were spectacular. In the distance was a mountain range. This was the border between Jordan and Saudi Arabia. I sat at the edge of the mountain contemplating what I was doing and where I was. One of those “moments” I suppose you could say. I turned on my phone. To my amazement I picked up a phone signal from a Saudi network. “Welcome to Saudi Arabia” a text message soon declared. I decided to try and ring
home. It worked. I was connected. I explained to my mother where I was. No matter how good I explained it though, you couldn’t actually beat being there. Here we were at the top of one of the highest peaks in Jordan, in the middle of a desert, making a phone call to thousands of miles away on a Saudi network. Which was more spectacular. The piece of plastic in my hand letting me connect to anywhere in the world or the awesome beauty of the Wadi Rum Desert and its surrounding mountains. I now knew why T.E. Lawrence called it “echoing, spacious and godlike”. Its for moments like these that you travel.
In a bit. DH
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