Wadi Rum

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January 29th 2013
Published: February 1st 2013
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We had a very lazy morning today. We slept in a bit and then went down to breakfast where we were able to pick and choose from a breakfast buffet. It was windy and overcast outside - there were white caps on the Dead Sea - so we spent a couple of hours in our room bringing the travel diary/blog up-to-date while we had really good internet access.

Ahmad met us in the foyer at noon and we set off for Wadi Rum. Wadi is Arabic for 'valley' so Rum Valley. The weather was dreadful as we drove back to Amman to pick up the Desert Highway. In fact, when it reached the point where the fog reduced visibility to just a couple of metres, I dozed off! Well, there was nothing to see was there?!

Fortunately, when we reached the outskirts of Amman and started driving on the Desert Highway, the weather cleared up and we had a sunny drive through the harsh and rocky desert landscape. Along the way, we passed a large factory where they mine phosphate which is one of Jordan's main exports. As we neared Wadi Rum we had a dramatic view from the high desert to the low desert. It really was spectacular plunging down the escarpment to the lower, sandier desert.

We arrived at the Wadi Rum Visitor Centre where Ahmad needed to purchase a visitor permit for us. The visitor centre is overlooked by the rock formation named 'The Seven Pillars of Wisdom' by T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). Lawrence was a British soldier who served in Wadi Rum from 1916 to help organise the Arab revolt against the Turks. This contributed to General Allenby's eventual victory in Palestine in 1918.

We set a late lunch record today - it was nearly 5.00pm when we stopped for a bite to eat along the road a bit from the visitor centre. After a quick meal we proceeded on to the Bedouin-styled desert camp where we will be spending the night. With our sunset camel train ready to depart we quickly joined the cameleer and mounted up. Camels really are not very comfortable to ride!! It was an amusing juxtaposition of tradition and technology as our cameleer spoke animatedly on his mobile phone while guiding our camels along. When he finished on the phone he serenaded the camels (us?) with some traditional song. Perhaps that was to make up for the time on the phone or maybe the camels just like it?

My camel really wanted to eat and was picking her way (had to be a her, she had the longest eye lashes!) from salt bush to salt bush. She tugged the rope out of my hand at one stage which made me bash my left hand on the pommel of the saddle. Ouch, split a knuckle and bruised a thumb nail. As the sun dropped below the horizon, the temperature went with it ... and it wasn't very warm today to start with.

After our camel ride we were taken to our 'tent'. Hmmn, I expected this accommodation to be rudimentary - and it was - but I had hoped that it might be a bit cleaner. I think it might be a case of the camp operating with a skeleton staff in low season. Anyway, for the sake of tourists to come, I hope that some cleaners will be along to spruce it all up a bit before the high season starts.

Before it got any colder I dug my thermals out again and put them on under my clothes and then added a couple of layers on top and found my furry hat. All rugged up we ventured down to the communal tent to see what was happening. Not a lot really since we are the only guests in the camp! We sat under a gas fired patio heater and drank sage tea. I had some of this yesterday at the mosaic workshop where the host told me that they boil sage and sugar in water and then add tea leaves and boil it a bit more before serving it. The best part was wrapping my freezing hands around the hot cup!

Unfortunately, dinner wasn't as good as lunch, but we picked at enough of it to get us through the night. Maybe the late lunch was a good thing?! The camp cat was more than happy to help us with a couple of the chicken skewers. We moved from the communal tent out to the fire pit and chatted with Ahmad for a while about star gazing and Middle Eastern politics ... as you do. There was quite a bit of cloud so I don't think Ahmad or Bernie will be attempting any photographs of the stars tonight.

Thoroughly smoked, we retired to bed. Having carried our silk sleeping bags around for the last three and a half weeks we decided that we would use them to supplement the rather basic bed linen supplied. Our itinerary had led us to believe that we might be sleeping under horse hair rugs but, no, we had three good old polar fleece blankets!! After cleaning our teeth, I stripped down to my thermals and Bernie stripped down to his boxers and T-shirt and we snuggled down into our surprisingly comfortable beds. Oh, and we both wore hats to bed. My beanie turned out to be useful again after all.

Steps for the day: 6,489 (4.42 kms)

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