Jordan’s Wadi Rum was my first ever desert experience. Even better: I was able to camp out there under the stars, lulled into a restless sleep by bedouins snoring deeply. Yes.
We made a few stops here and there – ramshackle shops and cafes and the likes – but judging by the abandoned campsites, Wadi Rum had fallen onto hard times. The tension in neighbouring Syria had caused a drastic decline in Jordanian tourism. Most people seem to think this part of the world is borderless or something.
Anyway. Our plan was to make our way to Captain’s Desert Camp, in the heart of Wadi Rum. But not before stopping to watch the sun set. There are few places I’ve experienced where the silence is so thorough you can feel it. I’ve written about it in Iceland, and Newfoundland. I LOVE those silences. Of course, being on a trip with other journalistic types meant such silences are interrupted with camera shutters firing off. It’s how we roll.
The camp is about as luxurious as you can get for a camp. We were assigned to various tents, but I opted to sleep out near the campfire for fear of creepy crawlies hovering in the corners of my tarpaulin.
(It didn’t really make a difference, I suppose. When we were seated near the campfire, one of the other writers said, “That beetle is MASSIVE.” I couldn’t see it. “Where?!” I squealed. “It’s over there,” he said, pointing off in the distance. “But it’s big enough I can see it from here.” NOPE NOPE NOPE.)
Anyway, our charming Bedouin hosts danced around the campfire, clapping and singing, until finally we were riled up enough to join them in a dance. By the time we all collapsed trying to catch our breaths, our epic feast for the night was ready.
I do enjoy me a good meal cooked beneath the earth. This is “zarb” – a traditional Bedouin meal where a large pit is dug in the ground, a fire is made, and then a massive tray of meat, chicken, and veggies is cooked up. Unearthing it is like a celebration. I could hardly eat half a plateful; there was SO MUCH FOOD.
I didn’t sleep great. Camping in Wadi Rum is hard. I woke up entirely congested, and I knew I must have been snoring like a monster. I could hardly breathe. In the early morning, I could hear the Bedouins and other people stirring, and I definitely wasn’t the loudest snorer in the camp. I guess that’s what happens when you’re in a dry desert.
The finale of our trip was a slightly terrifying but awesome camel ride across sand dunes and sandstone-pillared landscapes.
My camel was incredibly grumpy, and was not afraid to show his distaste for gingers. He tried to bite my face, and then he tried to eat my hair. I did manage to get a camel selfie, however.
But sitting on a camel while it’s running? TERRIFYING. I’ll stick to horseback. Maybe.