Sunday, April 26, 2009

Visiting Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum. Never heard of it? Now you have.

Before moving to Jordan, Elodie first had to sell me on the idea of living out in the middle east. My only images of the middle east of course were CNN (otherwise known as 'Certainly Not News') and of course, Iron Man.

Elodie of course, simplified her sales pitch by saying 'Jordan has the ancient city of Petra, where they filmed Indiana Jones 3.' Oh, well if you put it that way, it must be good!

Sooo, before I begin my story... let me sell my story to you first... 'Wadi Rum, its where they are filming for the up and coming Transformers 2!'

Lets begin.

Wadi Rum is famous for its amazing rock formations and desert landscape. The area is inhabited by native Jordanians called Bedouins, who are known for their deep hospitality. Legend has it that they are pretty welcoming because in ancient times you could be travelling through the sand for days and have no one but your camel to talk to. So when someone comes by they usually invite you to stay and drink a shitload of tea with them.

The place is also famous as a former stomping ground for Lawrence of Arabia where he based his operations for the Arab revolt of 1917-18. That by the way was also made as a film if you want to learn more.

Wadi Rum is a red sand desert known for its incredible rock formations. The giant red cliffs look like giant melting lava honeycombs. Most people I show these pictures to comment that it looks likes tons of snakes and scorpions are just waiting to feast on you should you dare to go near.

We arrived in Wadi Rum at about 5 PM on a friday night and camped out in traditional bedouin tents. When we asked if it was OK for us to drink a few beers around the campfire, our guide responded in a very serious manner 'This is the desert. You must respect her and eat biscuits and natural tea.' We eventually figured out that he was joking and that lots of people bring their own alcohol. It was a great treat to find out that our guide was pretty funny, but I get the feeling that desert humor is very dry (get it?.. ha ha).

I was wondering what the hell he was burying in the sand while we were out exploring the rocks around the campsite. At around 7 PM he started to unbury whatever the hell he buried and we discovered that he had in fact cooked us a traditional Bedouin meal underground. So evidently when you leave out for the day to tend to camels and such, you don't want to come home and cook. So they have this slow cook process for the morning where they dig a hole in the sand, build a fire, throw food on it, cover it to keep the sand out, then bury it for a slow cook process.

I wish that I could report that I slept well, but its pretty hard to go back to sleep when you feel the little pitter patter of tiny feet across your back at 3 am in the morning. Evidently you could see the tracks of a desert mouse in the sand outside our tent, so I opted for playing my Nintendo DS rather than allow unwanted visitors crawl into my ear canals during my deep slumber.

The next morning we set out for our adventure. Cool winds, 85 degree weather and no tourists.. It was just us, the desert, and a mouse. Wadi Rum is exceptional because the massive size of the rock formations really makes it an exceptional visit...sort of akin to visiting the Grand Canyon.

The most interesting place to visit was a crevice in between two cliffs. Evidently in ancient times when people travelled through the region on camel for the Mecca pilgrimage they would use it as a stopping ground. There are ancient messages in forgotten languages carved into the stone. Some travelers signaled danger by carving a picture of a man with a knife, or would tell you to climb up higher by carving a picture of two feet. Someone carved Ahmed + Sameera 4 ever which must mean something profound in ancient arabic.

We ended our trip exhausted, sunburnt, dehydrated but extremely enthusiastic. If you ever get a chance to visit Jordan, this is definitely a top destination!

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1 comment:

  1. Indiana Jones 3, Transformers 2, Power Rangers 4!