Sunday, June 18, 2017
11 "Ahlan wa Sahlan! Welcome to Aqaba and the Wadi Rum" 2
Garry filmed our group just before we boarded our ship after a very long
He was referring to the movie "Martian" which was filmed at our destination,
the "Wadi Rum". Also known as The Valley of the Moon, hauntingly beautiful,
the Wadi is an arid wilderness stretching over 182 acres. A Luna landscape
filled with mountainous rock formations, canyons and sand dunes.
We drove for around 45 minutes before reaching the Wadi Rum Visitor Centre,
gateway to the desert. Climbing the stairs to the view point, your first
glimpse of this magnificent desert is the rock formation named "The Seven
Pillars of Wisdom," after a booked penned by TE Lawrence, or more
romantically known to us as Lawrence of Arabia.
We swapped the caravans of the past for open safari jeeps, which certainly
displayed the scars from battling this rugged terrain. We entered the
desert proper, via Rum Village; home to the Bedouins of the area. Rubbish,
abandoned car parts, boarded windows and run-down houses made it look more
like a war-ravaged town where its occupants had fled and the only signs of
life were the occasional clothes line, vegetable garden and free roaming
The desert was amazing. Mountains that have eroded over time, from wind or
maybe water and probably from the melting glaciers from the ice age. Rock
formations that remind us of different places that each of us have visited.
"Hey, they remind me of the lava lakes of Kuai", "this looks like Nevada",
"that looks just like one of Gaudi's buildings". A never ending changing
landscape that seemed to never end.
Mohamoud sent us into canyons in search of the water fall at the end..
Resembling a narrower Petra Siq, I called back. "How far, I can't hear any
water?" ... "keep going he calls back, it's dry" . now he tells us. Once as
far as we could go we reached the only evidence of a fall, a small puddle of
water "sure hope this is not someone's toilet." Graffiti also adorns the
walls of the canyon, some of it ancient and unfortunately some new!
Rest stops are in the form of Bedouin tents, offering refreshing hot sweet
tea to the weary tourists. Jewellery, scarfs, creams made from amber and
musk, all available for us to purchase.
Lunch was a different experience that came as a bit of surprise. Tour notes
stated lunch at the Rum Village, so whether another by-product of Ramadan,
or that we were just so far into the desert, lunch was served picnic style.
Expecting the comfort of a Bedouin tent, shaded, cushioned and strategically
placed to make the most of the cross winds. "Lunch is just around the
corner" we were told.
Around the corner was a lonely mat sat on the ground with a rock in each
corner to hold it down. We wondered how long it took to find the lumpiest
spot. Ok, so where are the cushions, more important where are the toilets.
"Lots of places to hide" was Mohamoud's solution. Ok, I can hold for a bit.
The boys didn't have a problem with this bush toileting.
To their credit lunch was divine. The national dish of Jordan "Mansaf" -
the epitome of one pot cooking, we licked our lips as the large pot, with a
blackened base from the open fire it was cooked over was pulled out from a
third jeep that joined up. How spectacular did it look when inverted on to
the large tin tray. Rice with chunks of chicken, onion, potatoes and
carrots, with a flavour that had you looking for seconds. Served with flat
bread, a salad of tomato, onion and cucumber, all topped with a dollop of
yogurt. Luckily food trumped the hard-lumpy ground we sat on, well for the
"What, a two-hour sleep time?" another little surprise was added to our
adventure. Left stranded on our lumpy mat, Mohamoud and the drivers wandered
off with their mattresses and blankets and made themselves comfortable on a
Tick tick tick, the time passed slowly, wishing we brought our ipads, books
and I would give anything for my fold up chair.. "When in Rum, do as the
Bedouins do", just like peeing in the bushes the boys did just that and
their harmonised snoring echoed throughout the canyon.
So, it was either the boredom or the heat that was getting us - things
started to get silly with the odd joke and giggle. Especially when we
warned Peter that a couple of large beetles were crawling towards where he
lay. "Oh, I broke wind, they must be Dung Beetles!"
After a few prods from us, a very nonplussed Mohamoud returned and we
finally were on our way again. The highlight of the afternoon was a natural
rock bridge. "Who wants to climb it?" called our guide. To the simultaneous
"Not Me" exclamations, I relented as I knew Garry would want to do the
climb. At each level I said "no, no, no more", and Mohammod replied just
follow me. I crawled up the rock trying to lodge my foot into each of the
manmade holes, which were too far apart for my little legs. "stand up, don't
sit" he called as I continued to crawl and slide my bum. "that's enough for
me, I will wait here." But I continued as I was encouraged along.
To the top I made it, but there was no way this little black duck was
walking across .. Memories of the Great Ocean Rd and the collapse of London
Bridge still fresh on my mind. What goes up must come down, and that
included me. So, with my heart in my mouth we retraced our steps, climbs and
slides to the tune of "stand up, its easy, follow me. oh don't sit down" and
with one final jump I reached the bottom feeling very chuffed.
Eventually like an oasis of civilization the Rum Village appeared in the
distance, but best of all so did the toilets!!
We ended our day with a call into Aqaba, and to my delight a plate of
Jordanian Kanafeh, a delicious cheese and honey pastry. We also called into
the Via Jordan tour office, and what a surprise and compliment it was to see
Garry's video from the last time we visited Aqaba playing on the TV mounted
on the wall.
Gaznjo's Port Tips
Tour Details : www.viajordan.com
Free shuttle from ship to Aqaba town. Most places will take US dollars, but
cheaper if you actually use the Jordanian Dina.