MARS ON EARTH
It was late in the evening. My body was feeling woefully drained after leaving thousands and thousands of steps in Ancient City of Petra before I arrived at one of the Bedouin camps in Wadi Rum, the largest valley in Jordan, and the most wonderful . And it ain’t stopping there. There was no rest for me as was the dunes that kept on wiping and wiping the ground. The day turned into dark in a quick succession. I was taken by our guide, Abu Khalid, one amicable human being, to the middle of nowhere. It was complete darkness, led by only one source of flashlight, it wasn’t helping me a single bit. But Abu Khalid and his son that he brought along (probably around 8-9 years of age) wandered it up like the land is their backyard. After about 15 minutes of walking, we finally stopped. I turned my head back and tried to locate at which direction we came from, there was hardly an evidence. The sight of the camp was also gone.
I was confident there were rocky reddish hills surrounding us but I could barely see anything in the midst of darkness. Abu Khalid made me look into the sky, and suddenly I remembered what is Wadi Rum best known for at night. Perfect place for stargazing. A beautiful masterpiece of nature with golden dunes in the daytime, and a vast emptiness of star light at night. This sky was full of twinkling stars. Sadly the stars cannot be captured by phone camera. Hence, no photo. I laid my back on the cold dune, looking up sleepily, and dozed off.
All I could remember next was waking up from the comfort of my bed and got out from my tent and feasted with this view.
Some of well known Hollywood movies were filmed here namely Lawrence of Arabia (1962), a biographical film about T.E Lawrence an English officer who successfully united and led the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks (I was halfway of Lawrence of Arabia the moment I was writing this), and a recent one like The Martian (2015) that used Wadi Rum as an epitome of Mars landscape (which is a lame attempt if you’ve been to Wadi Rum beforehand).
The easiest and best way to explore this ‘Valley of the Moon’ is to hop in the jeep of one of the local Bedouin men who work for a camp or tour company. They knew the way around the vast desert like the back of their hand.
A journey in the land of Jordan in general would not be complete without experiencing the people’s hospitality. Here, you’ll be offered tea. In Wadi Rum, it is jokingly referred to as Bedouin Whiskey. Hold the cup by the rim, do not set it down, and hand the cup back to your host for a refill. When you are done, simply wiggle the cup in your hand as you return the cup to your host.
Looking back on my time in Jordan, it’s so fascinating to me that my time in Wadi Rum desert, something so simple and seemingly boring, was one of my favorite experiences of this trip, and probably of my lifetime.