Ok, after a very long wait, here is another day in my trip around the Red Sea over to Jordan….
Once at Wadi Rum camp, the scenery was beautiful but perhaps not quite as amazing as Petra. The places consists of wide open desert plains with rocks hills around the edges, often providing convenient caves as dwellings for people. Often the rock formations were quite abstract in appearance looking like Swiss cheese.
These ancient writings are pretty cool, but when our tour guides (asked my an enthusiastic Brazilian chap who had a keen interest in geology) were asked about the markings, how old they were etc, they didn’t really know much.
Below the narrow walkways through dried up waterfalls were pretty nice.
Me and the two Swedish lads sat on top of the pile of rocks and watched the sun go down. After then mainly just sat around discussing places we had just come from, Jerusalem, Sinai, Cairo, Damascus, etc.
There was a brick built bathroom block, some tents, and pipe and plumbing systems are seen to be channeling from up on top of some rocks where some kind of water cistern is housed.
The construction of the tents is very interesting, they are built as an almost permanent residence. Here you can see that there is a concrete block base and and a painted rigid steel frame which has the canvas stretched out over the top. Gives the whole thing quite a robust structure and probably doesn’t need too much maintenance.
By then we were all quite hungry, but didn’t see an obvious sign of a kitchen. After a while Zadane the boss, standing very tall with his traditional Arab head dress called us outside. I wasn’t expecting this part.
Two of the other Arab men got out a couple of spades and dampened out the fire by hitting it and scraping over the sand before digging it up until something metal was found. It looked like a large upside down bucket. Next they took the metal object out of the ground with a pole and put by the side of the hole. Then a lid of the thing was opened. Inside was our dinner, after the lid was taken off there was what looked like a very large old fashioned cake stand, and several whole chickens and some vegetables wrapped in tin foil had been cooking all day underneath the fire. A totally unique method of cooking I have never seen before.
So we got to eat Bedouin style in another tent with tables a few inches of the ground sitting on some cushions. We were all well fed after this, then we got to play card games and some of the tour guides played up some music on Arab style guitar. The two Swedish guys who liked heavy metal did try playing a few chords of Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ which was quite amusing. We also got chatting to a young girl whose nickname was Josiah (but her name was actually Tan) from the US who had Indian background who was working for the Jordanian tour company, cleaning, cooking and admin work. Have to be hugely amazed how brave she was doing this on her own in a place where roles for men and women seem a world away from western culture, she was fun to chat too and was working in different countries and earning money to get a flight to the next part of her adventure. Earlier in the day, there was another woman (from the Netherlands) who told me she was working for the same place but had just quit as she didn’t get on with the staff, understandable I guess.
After sleeping in a wonderfully comfortable bed in large tent with about 8 other people, I had to get up early (7 I think) to get back on the jeeps to the village where the tour company’s office was where we could get a taxi back to the town of Aqaba, close towards the border of Israel. This time I got to share with two Japanese guys thankfully making my journey much cheaper, and just as I had prayed, I had just enough money to get back to the border.
I was quite glad to be back in Eretz Israel now, going back through the Yitzak Rabin crossing is a bit odd. I had to pay for my stamp to go back through and in true Israeli security fashion, they put my bag through the xray machine three times, asked me who I met and where I went. One these bits were done there were some very dated pictures in the building of Yitzak Rabin (assassinated in 1995) with Bill Clinton and Yassa Arafat all smiling in some large photos on the wall on the way out. How things change a lot in 15 years in the middle east…
It was back to the Shelter youth hostel overlooking the beautiful Red Sea, I was in for a whole lot of more surprises later….