Friday, July 12, 2013

Wadi Rum

On Thursday (6/13) we started out on a two day trip to the south to Wadi Rum (the Rum Valley) and Petra.  The plans were to spend two nights camping in the desert and then all day Saturday visiting the ancient city.

Bedouin  encampments can be seen along the road


Not all Bedouins move about - as I found out when I had lunch at the house of a Bedouin family.  

But many of the nomadic groups are like the migrant workers in the States. 

They contract with the landowner to care for/harvest the crops and in exchange live on the property. 
And their camels, of course, move in as well.

I liked this house.

I'm fascinated with the countryside and took zillions of pictures as we traveled south and then realized they all looked much the same.

And then the landscape changed and became more mountainous.

I took pictures of camels whenever I could.

Americans have a reputation for pointing and shouting "Camel" at intervals along the road. Arabs think that's silly.

And then we moved into moon territory. Or so I thought.  Strange rock formations and a sepia glow to the world.

And here's a camel crossing along the road.We got out of the car to take pictures - of course.

No one was minding the camels...they were on their own to find what food they could

They couldn't run away. And we found out why when we approached - they were hobbled.

A very sad sight to see an animal with its front legs tied together trying to run away from Americans and their cameras.

That's when we left.

Soon we were in the City of Wadi Rum.

The campgrounds were just outside the city.

And here's where I spent two nights - in a tent - in the desert.

You might imagine what was in my head when I heard about this trip.  Desert/Tent/Snakes/Sand and all around DISCOMFORT. 

In reality (outside my head) it was OK.  We slept on cots (three to a tent).  There was hot water and toilet paper.  Lots of sand, but no snakes.   

And an absolutely surreal landscape.  It looked to me sometimes like the movie sets for the old Westerns...the foreground filled with rocks and brush and maybe a canyon or two, but the background was just that - a painted backdrop of distant mountains.

Here's me contemplating the sand while one of the Brits (El) looks on, scratching his head.

The nights were beautiful and dark.  A tiny moon is seen cresting the hill.

The first night the camp "director" (who bore a startling resemblance to Pirate Johnny Depp, dreadlocks and all) and his crew, presented a meal that had been cooking (desert barbeque style,we were told) in a pit covered with sand for hours.  (No, the meal was wrapped so that sand was not mixed with the food.)  It was sooooo good.  Chicken (all meals have chicken here, it seems) and lamb and rice (of course).

We were with the British guys who had had the forethought to bring gin(bless their hearts) and tonic and lemons (imagine that).  We all (well the drinkers amongst us) trekked into the desert and had a few after dinner cocktails in the desert darkness.   Wow.

Dogs could be heard during the night. And what might have been a camel braying or whatever they do.  The wind picked up and the tent flapped about, but I slept well.

I was first up that next morning to profound silence.  One bird tweeted and a fly buzzed about.  A faint crackle in the air...maybe the sand shifting.

It crossed my mind that I was on the flip side of where I normally live.  A woman living on the ocean now staying in the desert where camels live. Who would have thought!

The fellows in the next camp saddled up for an early morning camel ride.

Another note about the meals which were all served in a large tent. Everything was fresh; no refrigeration at hand.  Breakfast apart from the standard hummus and bread included hard-boiled eggs and an interesting and tasty combination of thyme and nuts which is mixed with oil and used as a spread. It was super.

That morning some of the crew went horseback riding. I declined the opportunity, not wishing to end my trip in Jordan with a broken something.  Izzy, the other woman from Charleston and much younger and flexible than I, decided to give it a try.  She fell off the horse, suffering bruises, scratches and a nasty cut.  And, she was an accomplished horsewoman.  I was really pleased with my "no horseriding for me" decision.

In the afternoon we packed into the back of two pickup trucks for a ride through the valley and a look at the sunset.

Here's a sand hill to be climbed (not me).  I've seen pictures of sandboarding down hills like these.

This rest area (next to the hill) had a sign announcing that T.E. Lawrence had been a visitor to the region.

Tea was served and we made friends with one of the local feral cats.

 A curious effect of erosion...the sandstone appears to drip off the hills.

And that curious glow of the land and sky...

A group of bedouins were also moving through the wadi that night.

Camels look incredibly snotty - and don't appear to give a damn. They're also pretty silly looking. 

A beautiful place.

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