Wadi Rum - the life of Bedouins in the desert

The desert has been changing our plans ever since we arrived. Our initial plan in Jordan was to do the desert part of Jordan Trail for about 5 days, but reading the info on the internet made us change our mind, since we got that we'd struggle with water supply in these parts of the trail and we are not ready to carry extra 12 L of water on us. It is around 30 degrees in the desert right now and the sandy trail won't make the hike easier. 

So our plan was to go on a hike around Wadi Rum - from one Bedouin village to another. But no one really allowed us to do it in the begging. I believe we would've done it if we were more persistent, but we gave up to the locals. As we were getting on the bus, the bus driver was already collecting info on where everyone was going, our names, the countries we're from, the point of contacts at everyone's camps. And they informed us that at the Wadi Rum village the camp host will pick us up. We said we wanted to get to the camp ourselves, but the bus driver replied that we can negotiate that when we greet the camp host, because he has to drop us off right to him. Everyone is really thinking about safety, so no one gets lost in the desert. 

The drive in the mini bus was interesting too - we put our bags on the roof and went to the desert.

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After a short while we stopped at a local cafe. The bus driver passes down a huge piece of bread. Everyone grabs a bit and passes around further. Then after a while there are falafels traveling around the bus. My boyfriend jokes saying - is there going to be tea too? And sure enough, two minutes later we are drinking tea. And this bus is public transit. We must mention though, that only one passenger entered the bus during the whole route. The rest were tourists from around the world going to enjoy the beauty of the desert. 

When we got to Wadi Rum we got greeted by the owner of Joy of Life Wadi Rum camp - Eid. He insisted we go with him and said we should take a walk around the camp after. And so we did! We bought 10 big bottles of water and something to eat.

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We packed our stuff in the car, but we go sit in the back of the truck. That's how they drive around with tourists - so they can enjoy the warm air and the beautiful views.

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Wow, wow, wow! It feels like we're on Mars! Multiple movies have been shot here - The Martian, Last Days on Mars, Lawrence of Arabia, etc. When it was happening, there was police stationed around the film set and the locals could not enter. There are still local Bedouins living here that are wearing special clothes - white pants and long shirt that covers them, down until the ground. And only the locals who live here or work here can wear this attire. I am amazed, I would love to dress like this.

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And those red sand dunes. And they even change color a bit, according to the time of day .

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When we got to our camp, we dropped our bags in our beautiful tent and went on a walk.

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We can see everything clearly, but everything is so far. It seems like the next mountain or camp is close, because we can see it, but sometimes to get to it we have to walk for 30-40 minutes. We see tiny dots in the horizon - those are camels. There are also SUV's driving around the desert - desert tours.

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After a hot walk we go back to the camp for dinner. For dinner, they served us traditional Bedouin food - vegetables and chicken which were cooked for 2 hours, buried in the sand. After the dinner the owner was singing songs in the big tent and the cook was inviting everyone to dance. Authentic Bedouin life experience.

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To make it a 100% fulfilled day in the desert, all we got left to do was sit down by a barely lit bonfire, turn off all the lights, enjoy the Bedouin tea and watch the stars. We stayed up for a long time chatting, smoking hookah and counting the falling stars with our new friends from the USA. I counted 7 falling stars. 

We only comprehended the distances and heat of the desert when we got to the camp. We realized that we can't see all the landmarks only traveling by foot. So we decided to unite with out new friends from USA and got a full day SUV desert tour. It started at 9 AM and ended with sunset. 

We had breakfast in the big tent where through the window we could see the camels enjoying their breakfast as well.

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Being in the camp and in the SUV makes it feel like we're in safari. During the tour we got the chance to see big and small bridges made out of rock, Kzahali canyon which is famous for ancient writings and drawings. One of the drawings is a woman giving birth between two sides of the canyon on the rocks. We also saw Lawrence Spring and Lawrence house - from it, Lawrence could see the whole desert and see if there is no an attack coming from Saudi Arabia.

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The heat is at its highest at around 2 PM-4 PM, so at around 1 PM you can already see about 70 SUV's go hide from the sun somewhere between the cliffs. Our guide finds a bit of a shadow by the cliff as well. He put out a carpet for us to relax on, while he prepares lunch for us. After lunch we take a nap so the guide can clean everything up. I took a great nap. It was a great experience, you really get some relief from the heat in the shadow. After we took a nap we still had a couple sightseeing spots left to visit, some had a lot of tourists, some had none. Before the sunset the guide wanted to take us to a place. We followed him, we climbed the cliff, it was quite scary. Only then we realized it is not a spot to watch the sun set, but the guide wanted to show us that there are herbs and spices growing in the cliff. It smelled so nice. After, we went to another cliff where as we waited for the sunset we built our own rock pyramid.

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Second night in the desert is a lot cooler. While we're watching the stars, I can feel my feet get cold and I feel like putting on a light hoodie. During the nights in tents we're not freezing since we've brought our own sleeping bags. They come in handy in hostels where there are no sheets on the beds and in the tents at the desert. 

On our third day in the desert we were supposed to change camps. Eid - the owner of our camp insisted that he should take us to the Wadi Rum village so we can call the owner of the next camp because those are the rules – the owners have to take guests from one camp to another. I think if we told him that we wanted to hike there he would let us but we decided to go to the village, chill out there for a bit (or write the blog) and then walk to the second camp. We were supposed to walk for 7 km. The beginning was easy, we were walking by the highway and on the side of the desert but after a while we really had to get in the desert where the road gets tougher because at some point we were walking on sand. Our plan is not to go around but to go one part of the Trail which takes us across the cliff where there is supposed to be an alley. We were climbing for awhile but we never saw the alley. We are already pretty high and every time we stumble upon a higher cliff. We realized it’s getting more dangerous and we didn’t wanna risk when we were already 1 km up. It’s the hottest part of the day. Our heads are getting doll from the heat. We were laughing about the fact that we’re almost like first people on Mars because that’s exactly how the surface felt – it was rocks. We decided not to risk it and then we’re going to climb down and go around. The energy was so low at that point.

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After spending four hours in the Sun and 14 km we reach the camp. I got the shivers and I realized that I’ve gotten sunstroke. I got nausea as my head was spinning and my face was burning. I spent the whole night half asleep because I couldn’t really sleep and I was changing the cold compresses a.k.a. a wet T-shirt on my face. Slowly it got better.

On top of all that I have a really runny nose because it has been full since we were in Petra from the heat and the dust. It all doubled because of the sunstroke as well. 

After surviving the night we wake up at 5 AM again because we have to go further to Aqaba where we could finally enjoy water and take a swim after spending a week in the dust and drought. The owner of the camp was supposed to take us to the visitor center where we could jump in the public transit but no one is coming for us. If we are late for the bus then we either have to stay one more night in the desert which we didn’t want to do or pay a lot of money for the taxi. But finally at 6:20 AM someone picks us up. We jumped in the car and we were on our way.  

On our way there the driver decided to turn the car around and show us the beautiful sunrise. What? We have no time for that! Yes it was really beautiful but are late. As we got to the visitor center the driver said there is no bus that stops here. Yes the English language barrier in this camp was quite a problem. He’s gonna take us further down the highway. After a short moment the driver signaled the bus coming our way with the car lights and the bus stopped and he told us to get on it that is the right bus but it’s going to wrong way. Wait! What? Turns out the bus is going to pick people up from the village and then going to Aqaba. Works for us! It seems like this was a school bus since most of the passengers were children and students who were on their way to the school.

Another cultural thing about Jordan -  everyone smokes everywhere here. While we were on the bus for an hour the bus driver smoked 6 cigarettes. Not that I am counting! Passenger got on the bus at a bus stop and he finished his cigarette inside. The taxi drivers choose to smoke with the passengers inside the car as well. Not even asking if it is okay with you. 

The thought of getting our bodies into the red sea while we were on the bus looking outside the window really helped us to fight the smoke from the cigarettes.

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