Wadi Rum and a Run for the Border

Trip Start Apr 22, 2011
Trip End May 15, 2011

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

We are out the door at 7:30 this morning, heading south to Wadi Rum, a spectacular system of canyons and mountains rising dramatically out of the desert. It is the land of Lawrence of Arabia. We transfer to open-back Toyota Land Cruisers at the visitor's center and head out into the desert, passing the occasional hiker and the odd camel caravan of tourists seeing the views the old-fashioned way.

Our first stop is for a hike into a narrow canyon with ancient writing on the walls. It is a pre-Arabic script but with similar letters that our guide is able to distinguish. Unfortunately, one of our group members suffers a fall at this point and I race back to the Bedouin camp to alert our driver to bring the jeep. Our injured one is a doctor himself, so he uses antiseptic wipes to clean and dress the wound. Meanwhile, the Bedouins are doing dressing of another sort. Jerry volunteers to get into a woman’s costume and he favors us with a dance, much to the amusement of the locals. A bidding war breaks out, and he is fetching (very) offers as great as 100 camels!

We make another brief stop at a huge sand dune we can climb for spectacular views. I’m in sandals and my feet are being scorched by the hot sand so I don’t make it up to the top this year, but I have done so previously (it is where the cover shot for this blog was taken). Back to our bus and we race for the Arava Border land crossing into Israel at Aqaba. Just across the border we can see Eilat, where we are to catch a 3:50pm flight to Tel Aviv.

Walking across the border is quite an adventure, as we get a thorough questioning from the border patrol. One of us is carrying many guidebooks and materials about the Silk Road in Central Asia. These are Moslem countries, and we are thoroughly grilled as to why they are in our possession. Another group member has an old Olympic Medal that he was given by a former partner who died 13 years ago, and he is bringing it back to the man who won it who lives in Israel (he was on the Israeli sailing team). It is a huge chunk of metal, and the tour member is grilled endlessly as to how he obtained it and why he has it and where he is going with it. Finally, everyone is cleared and we meet our reception assistant who brings us to the airport.

We get through the initial security screening and check our bags, and then are informed that all the airports in Israel have been closed because the fuel supply from a major distributor has been polluted. Planes in the air are being diverted to Cyprus, and none on the ground can take off. We retreat to a coffee shop near the airport to relax while our local tour agency sorts out the problem, and are soon delighted to learn that a mini bus has been secured to drive us to Tel Aviv so that we can proceed with our tour uninterrupted. This is a wonderful stroke of fortune, as the airline chaos has soaked up all available alternative modes of transportation. The Toto Angels are working overtime!

I am writing this blog in the bus on the long drive to Tel Aviv so I can post it right away when we arrive. It is dark and we are driving through the Negev Desert in a thunderstorm and driving rain! Another miracle greets the arrival of Toto Tours, as our driver explains their reservoirs are depleted five meters below where they should be. Good fortune showers upon all.
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Russell on


bruce on


Gene & Will on

What a day you had. You are unbelieveable.

Mike Shaughnessy on

Very different from my Wadi Rum experience a few years back. Wish now that I had gone again. Hum, where was I during this time? Need to consult my calendar.

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