Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tullahans of Arabia (by Todd)

The next stop on our tour was the Wadi Rum area of Jordan. The closest comparison we can make would be to the Grand Canyon - desert, but with massive formations of rock all over the landscape. Wadi Rum is where TE Lawrence lived for many years, inspiring the locals to fight for some measure of independence. Also, portions of the film Lawrence of Arabia were shot on
location in Wadi Rum - another movie we netflixed prior to departure (and managed to work through all four hours) - and it was cool to see some of the same landscapes where Peter O'Toole/Lawrence had his desert adventures. Wadi Rum is a Bedouin area, and we had heard that the best way to experience it was to get a first-hand tour by a Bedouin, spend the night in their camp, and of course travel from the camp back to civilization by camel.

We spent most of the day traversing the Wadi Rum landscape with a guy named Abdullah in a 4x4. There is a 'circuit' of 4x4 stops that pretty much every day tour makes, and of course we made them all. We visited natural springs, deep red sand dunes, and some of the main mountains in the area. The best stops were climbing up atop a couple natural rock bridges, the highest of which was about 50 feet off the ground. Juli did well getting over her fear of heights, even if she scooted out into the middle of the bridge on
her bum.
The worst stops were the ones where we trudged across soft sand on our feet (my watershoes, while great for Wadi Mujib, are fairly porous in the sand) . We made a long afternoon stop in the shade to lunch and take a nap in order to beat the heat. We finished up on top of a small rock formation for the sunset. Throughout the day we rarely saw other people, whether on car or by camel...the desert was, well...deserted and eerily silent.

The silence took on a whole new dimension once we reached our campsite for the night. Nestled against the foot of a rock formation, the campsite was at least a kilometer from anything. The only others in the camp besides our hosts were two folks from Japan. Although the campsite had the look of a traditional Bedouin tent, it actually had a proper foundation and we had our own private tent area with a mattress, sheets, and pillows. There was even a proper bathroom and shower at our disposal. Our hosts cooked us up a meal, we drank the traditional tea, talked a bit, then went on our own to stare at the star-filled sky for a while before finally heading off to sleep - a somewhat relative word as it was 1) really hot and 2) hard to sleep knowing that the Japanese couple had found a scorpion in their bed upon arrival. I managed OK but I think Juli was kept awake with thoughts of the scorpion for quite a while.

The next morning we awoke for the sunrise and prepared for our 8km camel trek back to Rum Village and our car. The camel guide Saha helped us climb aboard our (seated) camels and then gave some kind of grunt/command and those bad boys stood right up (and somehow I stayed on). The ride was surprisingly bumpy, and there is some kind of art to sitting on a camel, but I think it is an art I did not quite master - it requires a bit too much flexibility with the legs. Juli
seemed to have a much easier time of it, while I was busy shifting from one butt cheek to the other, and complaining that the saddle didn't have a backrest. I was very happy when the 8km trek was over and I could return to the comfort of the rental car. Next up. . . traveling on ferry. A 'great experience'.


Grace said...

How much time does it take to ride a camel 8km? Awesome story!

Juli said...

It took 2hours and both Todd and I were very sore the next day. But it was worth it.

Wilkins said...

Looks like a lot of work to me riding 2 hours on a camel - although I have plenty of padding - I couldn't do it. Oh to be young again!

Enjoy and be safe!

Anonymous said...

Scorpion in the bed would have me up all night, too!