Where the Tarmac Ends...

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of Jordan  ,
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tonight I sit writing in my journal as the sun sinks behind this moon-like landscape that is called Wadi-Rum.

The desert made famous by the stories of Lawrence of Arabia, is an awesome and ever-changing landscape.  Red and white sands mixing together with imposing rocks growing straight out of the sandy desert sea.  A place where the elements are harsh, the stars shine bright, and there are no roads. 

Started out from the little town on Rum with 9 of us piled into the back of an ancient Toyota Land Cruiser.  Hitting the sand, we were shaking and rattling around to the various special places of interest in the desert.  Tire tracks in the sand were he ‘roads’ we too over hills and around mountains.  It seems amazing to me how someone can know where they are going.  To my eyes, the landscape is ever-changing, yet always the same.  For once I’m glad that we’re not doing this on our own!

Barreling to destination #3 on the selected route was when the truck suddenly stopped.  Going up a small dune, the tires sounded like they were spinning.  Several tries, and still nothing.  One traveler looked out an saw a bolt lying in the sand next to the back passenger-side tire.  The tire was spinning, but not in the sand!  The bolts had completely sheared off and the tires was all askew.

Off we all clambered in fear that the tire would come off completely and the truck fall, there seemed nothing to do.  Brian and a fellow Canadian traveler had a poke or two and wondered why the driver didn’t get out an do something.  While we were waiting, I admired the various other unique elements of our ‘desert camel’:  rag stuffed into the gas tank, smashed rear view mirrors, cup welded to the undercarriage to catch various leaking liquids, canopy with welds broken…Luckily, there was lots of entertainment while we waited for another truck to come.   A few girls took great pleasure in taking one another’s photos, and I took pleasure in taking theirs!

Continuing in our new luxury vehicle (gas cap AND one rear view mirror) wasn’t quite as smooth as we may have hoped.  Every time the vehicle went over a little bump there was a terrible ‘KLANG’ that came from the undercarriage.  Over the course of the day, I decided that the tour with so many stops at the ‘must sees’ in the desert was not actually for the tourists.  It was for the drivers to have little pit stops and tune up their vehicles.  Every time we stopped, the drivers were all out helping each other with something that was going on their vehicles.

But that just added to the fun of driving in the desert.  Perhaps the camel is the most reliable vehicle to use.  But we’ll try that another day and see…

We re-affirmed our status as ‘Rain Gods’ today as well.  In a country that only sees an average of 1 day/month of rain in the winter months - maybe only 4 times a year…guess what it did today?

Now I tried to look on the ‘bright’ side and be happy about it.  The light was diffused and the mountains faded into the greys beyond, and we got to see another side of the desert that few see!  But the fellow travelers who were only in Wadi Rum for the day felt differently as the wind whipped at our hair and rain stung our faces in the back of the open-air truck.  Everyone had been hoping for scorching sun and bright blue skies.  Tomorrow Inshalla.

As the sun goes down, the sky begins to clear.  But in the meantime, I’ll relax on the floor carpets of a goat-hair tent while sipping sweet sage and cardamom tea while dinner cooks in a sandy pit.  
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