Wadi Rum

Sunrise in Wadi Rum, Jordan.
Sunrise over the desert in Wadi Rum.

I was especially looking forward to our time in this desert, and pleased that Nashat had arranged for us to stay two nights.  I woke up very early and refreshed this morning, and went out into the desert with my camera in time to take sunrise photos. It was not an original thought, and several other tourists were out there as well. We have large groups of Italians and French with us. We can say hello and good morning in each others’ languages, and that’s it. The local staff gets a charge out of my attempts to learn Arabic. I find it really helpful to know several words and phrases, but I also like being able to make a good impression on people when I travel to their country.

We were going to meet Abdullah again, the young Bedouin man who showed us the way to our camp yesterday. He would be giving us a tour of the desert, but not until noon. There was some sketchy internet access and some outlets in the center of camp, so after breakfast I sat there for 3 solid hours and edited photos and wrote for my next blog post. I kept trying to update Word Press, but I couldn’t do the whole thing at once. I had to try twice to get all the photos uploaded – the first time the internet went out before all the images were uploaded. The third time the internet came back, I uploaded the text I had written in Word. The fourth time the internet came up, I edited the words and images and polished the post. I finally got it published, and when I confirmed that I had successfully published a post after two hours, I threw my arms in the air in a victory sign! Then I noticed I had not included the answer to the IKEA quiz, but I no longer had internet, so I fixed it the next day. When there was no internet, I either wrote or edited photos. I’ve been taking about 400 photos a day, and that’s a lot to dig through in order to choose the best ones for the blog.

Our camp in the desert, called Rum Magic. Our tents was not totally roughing it, since we had a bathroom in there.
View from our tent.

Abdullah picked us up in his truck and explained that we would start in the cab, but then we would switch to the benches in the back of the truck once we got out to the desert. First we stopped in the village of Wadi Rum, which reminded me a lot of a poor, small town anywhere. Then we hopped in the back and sped off into the desert. I’m not sure if all the Wadi Rum guides drive like Abdullah, but he seriously tore through the sand like a maniac. It was very entertaining. At one point he opened the door and stood up outside the cab while he was still driving! We caught air while leaping over sand dunes. Our hair was blowing in every direction and then the winds picked up and we got sandblasted. Margaret soon had to move back into the cab because the blowing sand was irritating her contact lenses.

Village of Wadi Rum with the mountains soaring.
Margaret and me in the back of Abdullah’s truck.
We left the village in the distance and went into the desert.
Wind storms picked up the sand and blasted us in the back of the truck.

We stopped first at a spring, and then went to a high hill to climb for a good view. It was mostly climbing sand, and it was a lot of work to get to the top. Abdullah offered his hand and I gratefully took it. He basically pulled me up the sand dune. At the bottom of the dune was a particularly windy area that we had to pass through on the way up and again on the way down. My eyes were filled with sand both times. After that, I had a grain of sand in my left eye that would not come out all day long. So I spent the entire day with a very irritated red eye with tears falling down my face.

A spring was apparently up in this mountain, and tourists were hiking up there to see. I didn’t. Ha!! See the trucks at the bottom for a sense of size.
A tree in the desert.
Wadi Rum is one of the most beautiful deserts I’ve ever seen.
Halfway up a super steep sand hill. You can’t tell how high and how steep it is. I was stopped here, taking a break. You can see the truck at the bottom, for perspective.
My payoff for hiking that damned hill and for getting sand in my eye: this view.
Here’s Abdullah, the crazy desert driver! He is wearing a Bedouin garment called a thobe. In the rural areas, most men dressed like this. Often they wrapped a scarf around their head, and Abdullah did this also, after the day got hot.

Abdullah took us all over Wadi Rum – to see arches, a spring, and some petroglyphs. We were taken to a place believed to be the home of Lawrence of Arabia. Margaret was not convinced. I’m not too sure either. We stopped for tea in a tent, and Margaret bought frankincense. On the way back to camp, Abdullah drove us over some particularly steep sand dunes, and swerved the truck all the way down and it was like a roller coaster ride. I had my hands in the air and was screaming all the way down the hill.

We went to a trail that passes between these two high points. The layers of the rocks suggest that they were formed as sediment collected on a sea bed.
Other visitors were exploring inside the crevice. This man is wearing a white thobe with a white scarf – quite the fashion sense.
Petroglyphs inside the crevice.
Ancient carvings in the stone.
More fascinating petroglyphs.
I zoomed in on this one because I finally learned to recognize a single Arabic word. This one says: Allah.
More petroglyphs. Sorry, there are so many! They were so awesome, I took a bunch of photos.
“Two roads diverged in the desert. We took the one less traveled.”
Me, on the small arch.
Gorgeous red rocks.
Wind sculptures.
Such beauty here.
Have you seen enough rocks in sand photos? I couldn’t get enough!
It’s a great look: these steep rock cliffs rising from the sand. See the little truck there beside the wall?
Me, goofing around on the big arch. Abdullah is walking away with my phone so he can take a photo of me.
This is what he shot. What a super great picture!!!
Carefully making my way down the rock in my Birkenstocks. I did all my climbing today in sandals! ha ha
Nashat and Abdullah waiting for me to get down off the rocks.
Margaret negotiating for Frankincense.
Hot water for tea. We are served tea at many stops, complimentary.
Stunning reds, greens, blues. Ahhhh
Camels are certainly the work horse of Jordan. We see them everywhere, and not just at tourist stops.

When we got back to the camp, Abdullah suggested two more outings: one to ride a camel out to watch the sunset, and another to have tea under the stars. We wanted to do both. First we cleaned up, and ate another dinner which was a repeat of the night before, with the chicken and lamb roasted in ovens underground. Then we rode out to meet the camels. We got all the way out to the tent in the desert, and were about to climb out of the truck, and Margaret gasped. “What?” She pointed to her legs. She was still wearing her knee-length sport skirt from earlier in the day. This was not appropriate camel-riding gear. She had forgotten to change into pants. We looked at Abdullah – “What do we do?!” He paused a moment to think, then gestured to Margaret to go to the tent with him. The tent was empty. Quickly Abdullah took off the trousers under his thobe and handed them to my friend. She shooed us out of the tent and lickety split came back out in pants! Tamam! (An Arabic word I have been using in place of Viola!) This has so far been one of the funniest stories of the whole trip. We climbed onto camels then, Margaret wearing a Bedouin man’s trousers!!

We had just climbed aboard and were getting ready for the walk into the desert.
Margaret’s fashionable pants in the desert, as she readies her phone for photos.
Pretty cool shadows
A view of other people watching the sunset in front of us.
Afterward I told Nashat that there was a single cloud, right in front of the sun. He thought that was unfortunate. “No!” I said, “The scene was incredible!” And you can judge for yourself.
The shadow of the cloud comes out like a dark star on the sky.

The others bailed on the starlight tea, but I had been looking forward to it all day. Abdullah took me way out into Wadi Rum, away from all the lights from the many many tourist camps. The stars went on to infinity. The Milky Way was clear and obvious. He told me what he called it, but I don’t remember. He collected dead branches from the desert and lit a fire, then placed a teapot on the coals and made us tea. He laid out a carpet, and a pillow so we could get off the sand. It was warm and perfectly silent, pitch black but for the coals of the fire, with stars everywhere. It was a magical evening, but eventually I couldn’t stay awake any longer and asked my Bedouin guide to take me back home.

A panoramic view to end this post. Click the image for a larger version.

17 thoughts on “Wadi Rum

  1. Ohhh, Crystal, how amazing! I enlarged almost every photo and I couldn’t believe what a difference it makes! My new huge screen is doing justice to your photos, or is it the other way round. 😀

    Seriously consider changing your theme with one that supports larger photos. Or at least try to put them in the kind of gallery that can be viewed horizontally (see my last few posts with that new colourful effect – which only works on the big screen, not on the phone).

    What a great time and amazing views. Those camel shadows, and you in the air! What a brilliant shot! And so many wonderful scenery shots. Just great!

    Lovely to see you two enjoying this trip so much. Let it last! (Or are you home by now?)

    Sentence of the post? “Margaret was not convinced.” Hihihihi!!

    1. Ha ha ha!!! We are still in Jordan for a few more hours. Head to the airport at midnight tonight, and then fly home for the longest Halloween of my life. I think I calculated 28 hours of travel time, and I’ll get to Portland at 9:30, so there will still be more Halloween left. 🙂 We will be flying backward around the earth, and reversing time, like Superman did in the movie.

      OK, thank you for the encouragement. I will find a new theme for my blog, to accommodate bigger photos. I am touched that you enlarged so many of the shots. This was the post I would most want you to do that with. Wadi Rum was the most beautiful spot of the whole trip.

      Margaret is a crack up here. She keeps saying, “Do we KNOW Jesus was baptized here?” or “Is this REALLY where Moses stood?” ha ha ha.

      1. Ooo, I see! I love the colour scheme and the first large lovely photo, and the text is bigger, all great things. The photos are bigger too, which is good, but it would be even better (in my view) if they were in a gallery that one can view horizontally, rather than click on every individual photo to enlarge it. But I know, now WordPress has changed some things, some gallery formats don’t support captions, and it’s not easy to manage just how one wishes. In any case, a great first impression of your new theme and a definite improvement!

      2. Thank you for the feedback. Yes, I’m glad the text is also larger. I think I’ll stick with this one for a bit and see what others say. I’ll also try to use the gallery options within my posts and see what happens. The next challenge is to see if I can rearrange the menu list, since I don’t want “Books I Read” at the top.

  2. Very smart to be skeptical of everything. I’m glad you are doing the traveling and sending back photos. It feels like you went to the moon and sent back shots through space. Wow! Impressive views and brave adventures. On to the next one.

    1. Margaret and I were a good team. She was suspicious of everything, and I was ready to believe everything. Between the two of us, we came to a reasonable conclusion each time 😉

      Good call on the space idea. Apparently multiple space movies have been filmed here in Wadi Rum because it looks like another planet.

    1. I know! Weren’t those shadows the best? Margaret and I took lots of photos of the shadows. ha ha. The trip really was amazing. I can’t stop thinking about how to go back and spend more time in my favourite spots.

      1. I’m not sure in what sense of safety you mean, but the answer is yes for all of them. Let me make a plug for JORDAN!! ha ha

        Margaret and I walked alone at night through the streets of Amman to find a restaurant on multiple occasions. No one paid any attention to us. When we went swimming on the beach, we left our camera and purses at our beach chairs. When we went shopping in the dense markets, we only had to say “No thank you” firmly, and the salesmen immediately left us alone (unlike SO many places). There was no social or civil unrest apparent, even though recently things were stirring up with Israel. The only place we saw the military was when we stood on the country border, and the only place we saw police were at highway checkpoints in which our driver had to answer for himself, and they had no interest in us. Our driver and his brother invited us into their family homes on three occasions, and we got to meet their mother, other brothers, our driver’s wife and son. We were made to feel like family. So yeah… one of the most loving, safe, welcoming countries I have visited in my life. I wonder if tourists to America get such a great welcome and reassuring experience.

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