Sunday, July 18, 2010

Saturday...Wadi Rum

Vast desert.  Mountains all around.  Camels grazing 100 feet from you.  No other people in sight.  This is Wadi Rum.

The experience of Wadi Rum was one I will never forget.  It started with our bus pulling up to 11 camels sitting and waiting for us to climb aboard.

I couldn't hold in my excitement!  They were so cute!  In the bus, Heidi and I were already discussing names for our camels.  I picked Grover because she loves Grover and misses him. 

This is Grover (real name, Sophie) 
Isn't she the cutest you have EVER seen?
I just want to pinch her cheeks!

Now I must say, riding a camel is NOT what I would like to do for long trips.  I am sure you can make your saddle more comfortable, but it was a little painful sitting on the camel.  However, it was so fun to watch all of us slowly make our way across the desert.  Sophie aka Grover wanted to eat ALL the time.  Every few steps she would bend down, grab a bunch of dry green bush and chomp.  You could literally hear her chomping.  You can imagaine what a camel looks like when he/she eats!

Some of the group taking it all in.
Note the young boys leading the camels!

Jolanda got to take the reins!

This is a view of what it looks like riding the camel. 
You can see, but you can't feel how it was. 
Trust me when I say, it needed more padding!

Elmo and Grover became fast friends!

In the last picture, you can see our next mode of transportation.  The "jeep" took us to 3 or 4 different locations throughout Wadi Rum.  If any of us fell off, we decided there was no way we would know our way back!  So we held on tight and watched the desert world fly around us.

We stopped in some shade for lunch right next to Lawrence of Arabia's home.  The lunch they prepared for us was so sweet. 

Another stop we made was to a canyon of rock that had petroglyphs from possibly the neolithic period.

The next stop was to a rock climbing experience!  We "spidermaned" our way up to the top, walked across this rock formation (nervous!) and crab walked back down.  I was very nervous the whole time, but really glad I did it!

Our final destination was camp before sunset.  Our camp was a two sided tent near a large rock formation (our third wall).  It was amazing!

On the right side of this picture was the mountain rock and the fire pit.

We had two bedouin men taking care of us that night.  They told us where to sit and watch the sunset.  So a few of us decided to go up on some rocks and relax in the desert air.

All you could see was desert and mountains for miles and miles.

The sunset was spectacular.

As we sat and had tea in our camp, the men prepared dinner for us.  They cooked chicken and potatoes underground!

After a plentiful meal, we sat around with some more bedouin tea and listened to the men play the oud and sing. (my pictures without flash didn't turn out that great, but you get the idea)

The Oud.

We had to set up where we were going to sleep.  We had three choices.  1. Under the covering.  2.  Out near the tables and seating.  or 3. Outside of the tent area under all the stars.  Well, we ALL chose number 3!  As this young man walked us around he started talking about a fox that comes to eat the leftover food.  I quickly became hestitant to sleep out in the open, to which he found very funny.  So he kept making jokes about the fox! :)

They had mattresses for us and blankets and pillows.  Some of us also brought sheets.  We dragged our mattresses out into the open and looked up at the stars.  I have never, never seen so many stars in my whole life!  It was incredible.  Surreal.  Peaceful.

Most of us fell asleep after a few rounds of laughter (like a big slumber party - except with snoring!).  Many had trouble sleeping, but what better place to have trouble!  Bryan saw comets and shooting stars all night!  About half of the group got up for sunrise (I saw it out of one eye for a second...).  At about 7:30, we all got up, put our bedding away and ate a light breakfast with tea, of course. 

I took advantage of a few minutes and sat down away from camp in the sand to reflect on this experience.  As I looked around, I couldn't believe I was watching camels grazing as if they were cows in Wisconsin!

Our night in the desert was over and it was time to pack up and head back to our bus.

You won't believe the contrast of locations we had on Sunday.  From Wadi Rum and the vast desert to the Dead Sea.  Stay tuned.....

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