Jordan Adventures - take # 2

Trip Start Sep 18, 2010
Trip End Jul 27, 2011

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

On Thursday we get up so early that I can't remember the time anymore. We want to make it to Wadi Rum by 10am to catch an overnight desert tour. First (major!) challenge is that the GPS navigation system we insisted on renting along with our car does not work. We can't even get it to start up. Awesome. It is too early to go to the rental agency and replace it and we don't have time to wait for it to open if we want to get to Wadi Rum in a timely fashion. So off we drive into the early Amman morning with no more than our memory from Anael's driving the day before of how to get on our way. We stop to ask directions from a local girl. She is not sure, so we ask her to check with a guy standing close by. She sais, she can't talk to him. It takes us a few seconds to understand. He is not a member of her family, therefore she is not allowed to talk to him or any other male. Wow, ok. Things like this make you remember that you are in a different culture.

Thankfully, we remember that we are to follow the road to the airport and it doesn't take us to long to be on the right track. En route, we stop a couple of times at highway stops to grab a coffee or two or three. Every stop is very entertaining to us, even though it is us that seems to be the entertainment. Within minutes of getting out of the car, every booth we go to gathers every male in walking distance. We speculate that the owners have a chain calling system that notifies everyone they know that there is female single travelers around. Everyone is rather friendly and mostly just looks at us curiously. I feel like we have magical powers in their eyes as they can't appear to grasp our independence. Strange folks, these Western women.

Camels on the roadside give away that we must be close. We buy our ticket to the Wadi Rum area and go to find Mohammed from Sunset Desert Camp. Unfortunately, we counted on ATMs which there are none in Wadi Rum. No problem. Mohammed is happy to take as much money as we can afford and we arrange to drop the rest for him in Petra the next day.

Our 4WD sounds rather unhealthy. Our driver needs to fix something under the hood before we even leave Wadi Rum village. Entering the desert, we are blown away by its beauty. The  fact that our truck needs to be fixed every 10 minutes is part of the excitement and we are amused by it rather than annoyed. The frequency of the engine giving up eventually reaches one minute intervals and finally, it just won't start at all anymore. By this point, we are not so amused anymore. We both have a head ache and stomach pains from all the kerosine fumes we inhaled but worse, we fear we might not make it to camp for sunset. Of course, there is no cell phone reception here any more, so calling for help is not an option.

So what do two independent German ladies do in such a circumstance? We start walking. We know the vague direction of the camp and even though it is unlikely we can reach it before dark, we are sick of waiting around, inhaling fumes. So off we go into the setting sun. Turns out walking on sand is a slow undertaking. There is no way we will be anywhere on foot before it gets dark. But hey, it's all part of the adventure. So we are quite enjoying ourselves, giddy with silliness, or maybe high from the kerosine. At one point, another truck drives up behind us. Our own driver is already in it and we get in as well. A few minutes later (but way farther than we could have walked), we arrive at camp. Just in time to enjoy the most magnificent part of the sun set.

Dinner is quite tasty (nothing like the Berber camp in Morocco) and our Beduin camp folks are in good spirits. A Honk Kong lady from Toronto can't stop telling us how amazing she thinks it is what we are doing. She is the cutest thing and I would bet that she will become a globe trotter herself in three years when she retires.

Lights go off at 8pm, so there is nothing left to do other than some star gazing and then sleeping earlier than I have in decades. Nine hours later, we are up again to catch the sun rise. It is nice, but I decide that I will stick to sunsets and sleep a little longer the next time. After two sunrises in a desert, I can re-affirm that I am not a morning person and sleep is more beautiful than early morning sun.

By 8am, we mount our camels after refusing to leave our bags in yesterday's truck that has meanwhile been towed to camp. Surely, the camels are the safer way to get them back to town. We know we are getting out of the desert, because Muhammed (yes, that was really his name also) is receiving cell phone calls on his camel.

Back at the other Mohammed's tour guide office (which is one large room with nothing but carpets in it), we engage a fully covered British girl that lives here to help us negotiate a discount for the 4WD issues we had. When asked what brings her to Jordan, she merely sais it's a long story. Clearly, she does not want to talk about it, leaving me wondering.
And so we are off to Petra, looking forward to a proper bed and shower. And in my case, seeing what I came to Jordan for most. 
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