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Bedouin Whiskey in Wadi Rum

April 14, 2011

It took a bit of convincing my mom that sleeping in the desert for one night (where we would not be showering) was a good idea.  Luckily she really wanted to stay in a Bedouin tent when in Jordan so she agreed and we were off to Wadi Rum – the land where Lawrence of Arabia once lived.

When we arrived in the small desert town, we were supposed to meet Mohammed who would introduce us to our guide for the next two days.  Our directions had us find the cell phone tower, which was not hard, and then look for him.  Well luckily a man started waving at us as we were driving through town and led us to Mohammed’s house instead.  Once inside, something seemed a little off about the surroundings.  Turns out we were with a different company than I booked with, at the wrong house, and about to meet the wrong Mohammed. 

Once we got that all straightened out, we went to the right place just down the road.  That is when I started getting a little worried.  We learned that Mohammed (the owner) was not in town but we would meet him tomorrow.  Of course, our hosts started making tea and making polite, broken discussion.  The room was not very nice and smelled like gasoline.  What kind of tour had I chosen for us??  I told Steven I wished we were going with the other company that had accidentally picked us up. 

After our cups of tea, worried looks from my parents, picking out a few things for lunch at the grocery store and filling up with gas, we were on our way in a really old jeep.  Don’t worry, things got better once we got going and we were so glad we stayed with our company!  Even though we still thought the Jeep was going to die after the first stop.

our fearless desert guide

Now, meet Barakat – our guide/driver/tea maker for Wadi Rum.  He was awesome.  It was amazing to watch him maneuver our old jeep on the sand (which is apparently like driving on snow).  He didn’t know a lot of history but was really funny and told us stories about the Bedouin and the desert.  For some reason he started saying yeehaw a lot too which was hilarious!  He loved his ‘Bedouin whiskey’ which is just tea and he loved his cigarettes even more.

Here is a quick clip of Barakat handling the sands of Wadi Rum in our jeep that had no brakes (literally):

The entire day was spent driving all over the desert and stopping at several spots – Lawrence’s spring, a rock that looked like a cow, walls covered in ancient writings, and others I’ll get to below.  We stopped and had lunch at a huge rock formation with a narrow cave that we thoroughly explored, and all of us wandered around while Barakat got lunch ready.  We had been a little worried about the meal after picking up a few things at the grocery store that morning but somehow he turned it into a great lunch! 

yes, the car was moving

After lunch, Barakat decided he would let my dad drive the jeep.  This was after hearing us complain about his bad driving the past few days.  Crazy enough, that was one of the safest times we felt with him behind the wheel …maybe because there were no cliffs to fall off!

Barakat stopped at two different sand dunes to let us run around.  The first time mom stayed at the bottom to take pictures while dad, Steven and I ran to the top.  Running uphill on sand is a little difficult and you feel like you never make any progress.  After running to the top, we decided jumping pictures were necessary and I even convinced dad to take one!  The second sand dune was later in the day and mom decided to join us this time.  Barakat told us that this sand dune would get blown around and just a few months earlier had been 200 meters away.  We hung out there for a while and took pictures and our camera is now full of sand.

For those of you that know Steven, you know he likes to climb things and he had plenty of opportunities in Wadi Rum.  I am a bit afraid of heights, so occasionally this made me really nervous.  One of those times was on top of this huge rock bridge.  Steven just made his way quickly to the top while dad and I were a little more cautious.  We finally made it to the top, took a few pictures and were ready to get down while Steven and Barakat just hung out on the bridge and Steven even decided he should take jumping pictures!

Later that afternoon, we pulled up to our camp for the night.  We were just in time to all sit out on a rock and watch the beautiful sunset.  Eventually we got pretty cold, so we headed into the main tent to warm up by the fire and have some tea while waiting for dinner.  There was a Canadian couple that was also staying at our camp that night so we sat and talked with them.  As well, there was a British woman in a full burka who recently married a Bedouin and was living in Wadi Rum.  Soon, dinner was served, which was amazing.  We had salad, rice, meatballs, chicken, potatoes, and of course more tea.  After dinner, Steven finally got to have some of the hookah he had been wanting – it was the perfect setting for it.

The tents we stayed in that night were really nice.  I wasn’t expecting a lot and definitely did not think we would get our own tent but we did!  I also worried about freezing all night but they were surprisingly warm and had tons of blankets!  It was actually a great night of sleep.

The next morning we woke up to head back to the village via camel.  The ride was a great experience but got a tad bit long (and uncomfortable).  Our guide didn’t speak English and started taking us off in the wrong direction…I think he was going to give us his own tour.  What was supposed to be a 1.5 hour ride turned out to be about 3.5 hours, but oh well, it just gave us more time to enjoy the quiet of the desert and our new camel friends.

Jordan is a wonderful place but there is soo much more to explore.  I feel like we could stay in Wadi Rum for a week venturing around and the same goes for Petra.  This is definitely a country I am coming back to in the future.

Jen

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