This morning, I took the bus, which is so bizarre that the only bus to Wadi Rum starts at 6am. So I put my stuff together, didn’t get to have breakfast with the high priced hotel, and headed out on my way to Wadi Rum. The planning with this was really sketchy because basically you set up to spend the night at a Bedouin camp, and they have options for you for the whole day.
When I got on the bus, it was filled with other question filled westerners who had booked with various camps. Unfortunately, no one had booked with my camp, so when we pulled into the Visitors Center, we were told to buy a $5JD ticket for admission. When I walked up, they asked me what camp, and they said, you don’t pay. So weird.
So I got back onto the bus hoping this ‘ticket’ wouldn’t cause me any trouble, we dropped off people one by one at their various camp ‘offices’, which were hole in the wall shacks in this little village.
The engine turned off, and I asked if it was my stop, and the driver and guide said no, but they started closing all the curtains. My mind started racing as to what was going on, and what would I do if I needed to exit the vehicle. Finally, they started the van back up and were driving to let me off at my camp.
When we arrived, another couple was getting into the van and I asked them how their experience was. They couldn’t stop smiling saying it was so amazing. This made me really relieved, and I went into this shack where we sat and looked each other (other bedouins and myself) for a bit before the manager came in to ask me what I had planned for the day.
What did I plan for the day? Um, nothing, because when I emailed you guys telling you I was coming in the morning, the website says I would have a choice of various things to do. He said that since I was just one, and the others weren’t coming until evening, that they weren’t going to take just me out on a tour. I was getting annoyed at this point, especially since I had not been given any information when I asked, and now I was worried that I’d spend the whole day just sitting with nothing to do.
Fortunately, he agreed to send me to another camp that was going to do a camel ride through the desert, a jeep ride through the desert, sandboarding, lunch made by our guide, hiking, sunset tour, dinner, and dancing under the stars. Sign me up. So I got driven over to another office, and sat until more people arrived.
2 Chinese girls arrived and after talking with the American volunteer who is there studying Arabic about his life in the camp, we were off on camel back across the desert. It was very bright, and the Chinese girls were dousing themselves with sunscreen. After a good 45 minutes, we arrived at a spring which was used for various Bedouin camps to get water. You saw a trail of green from the hillside all the way down.
We then got in the back of a 30 year old Nissan truck ‘jeep’ and headed off into the sunny desertscape that had flat sand areas that we drove through, with huge clumps of rounded mountains towering all around us. We finally got to a huge hillside that other people had stopped at to ‘sandboard’, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I was a little nervous because everyone was falling as they went down. I dragged this stupid snowboard up an impossible hill, as the sand just sinks when you try to climb up it. The sand was red like rust and got all over my feet and legs and filled my shoes until I took them off to bring them up. After getting strapped into the snowboard, I pushed off and sat there. Everyone watched with baited breath as I bent low to keep my center of gravity. However, I wasn’t moving. So I hopped forward a bit more, bent low, and again, nothing. I literally hopped down this entire stupid sand dune to no sliding avail. I don’t know what it was, but it was disappointing, and I didn’t want to try it again.
After this, we were on our way for more of a tour around Wadi Rum and we arrived at Lawrence of Arabia’s house foundation. Here they had some refreshments like tea and shisha, and we rested for a little bit before going on our little hike.
Once we made it through a canyon to the other side, our driver was starting to prepare a fire for our meal. I had these amazing thoughts of lamb on a shishkebab firing away with vegetables and hummus. However, when he started cutting the tomatoes with his bare hands, and putting onions into the pan that looked well beyond used, I started having my doubts. After they simmered a while, he started to prep the hummus from a can, feta cheese, from a can, tuna, from a can, and we began our meal. Surprisingly, the food was good, but of course not having any meat to satiate my hunger of having hiked and been in the sun all morning, I was hopeful for more sustenance. Luckily, the Chinese girls broke out a chocolate bar at the end of the meal, so I forgot about eating only vegetables for lunch.
After we left, we had joined another group. These trucks have been run into the ground, and no pun intended, when we launched over a sanddune and into the valley, we got stuck. He rammed it into reverse, and I thought, oh this isn’t good, he’s going to back up right into the hillside, and sure enough he did. The next half hour was spent laughing with our other comrades as we tried to push the truck out of the sand. Luckily it worked, and we were then able to continue our exploration of the desert.
We then were off to do more hiking, and got to the tall bridge. We were wondering how we could get up this huge rock mountain that had a natural bridge going across it. Before we knew it, our drivers had taken off their shoes and were running up the rocks barefoot, so we followed suit and clung to the rocks like monkeys on our way up. The view from the top was beautiful and we took in a wonderful 360 view of the desert surrounding us. The Chinese girls wanted to try out sand boarding, and while I waited at the bottom, I lavished in some of the softest sand barefoot ever. It reminded me of the awesome sand of the Whitsundays in Australia, not as fluffy, but still quite soft…and of course not white.
After this, we headed to check into our camp for a little rest before we headed out for the sunset. I was starving at this point and was hopeful that the sunset would hurry along trying to be patient. As we drove out with the other trucks from our camp, we soon lost them to various lookouts, and our driver apparently took us to a lone hill where no one was. We sat on the sanddune looking westward at the setting sun and watched the colors of the sky fade from blue to orange. On our way, camels were roaming off in the distance as silhouettes that accompanied the Arab music our driver was blaring out of the Nissan. He also brought his shisha and lit it up at the bottom of the hill while we watched the sunset.
After about an hour, we were back in the truck and the air started to get cooler. We made our way back to camp, and luckily food had been underground cooking in a fire pit where chicken, potatoes, and other vegetables were plunged from this hole in the ground. It was a fun way to start the buffet dinner, and I was excited to finally be eating some meat :)
During dinner, I spoke with some Australians and we talked about the trip in Jordan and such. They were a nice couple. It was interesting, the camp was represented by Americans–who no one talked to one another, French, Russians, Australians, Italians, and Jordanians. It was a league of nations, but everyone was coupled off, so it was a little odd for the interaction. I was expecting a more relaxed atmosphere like a hostel, but this was like a couples retreat that everyone seemed to have barely any interest in speaking, except for the nice Aussies.
The night was bright with a half moon, and I was looking forward to seeing the stars, so as we finished dinner and went outside for some traditional music, and a forced ice breaking dance of a duck duck goose type rule, I was ready to be off on my own and watch the stars. I was exhausted from the day, and after chatting more with the Aussies, I decided it might be time for me to get some sleep in my little tent.
I did wake up in the middle of the night, and after the moon set, the stars were really beautiful. You could see the Milky Way and all the stars peering back at you, lighting my way to the toilet :)