I just got back from probably the most amazing trip I’ve ever taken. I’ve been some great places (including Puerto Rico this time last year with two of my wonderful roommates) but this was just something else entirely.
Wadi Rum is about 4 hours south of Amman by bus, and actually pretty close to Aqaba. We got there around noon and ate lunch, after which we boarded onto the back of trucks for a four-hour ride through the desert. This is when we all realized just how beautiful Jordan is. I don’t think Amman really does justice to the rest of Jordan. All of Wadi Rum used to be under the ocean, and so there are all sorts of different rock formations. Really giant rocks too, and every once in awhile we would get out and climb and look out across the desert. The colors were just amazing, blue and brown and gold and everything was so clear and crisp, and the weather was perfect. We watched the sun set and then hurried into the trucks so we could beat the cold.
We got to the camp, and while we waited for dinner some friends and I walked around a little bit. I haven’t seen that many stars in years. Every time I would look up and it would be like seeing the sky for the first time. As my eyes adjusted to the night I could see more and more and more stars, and we found all sorts of constellations. Afterwards we ate a great dinner and then the music started. The Bedouins who ran the camp got out their drums and guitar and started dancing, and a few of us started dancing too, for hours and hours. After that we were so tired we just passed out, but not before getting into as many layers as possible. I wore a t-shirt, a giant sweatshirt, a fleece jacket, leggings, and pajama pants and got under three blankets to keep warm.
In the morning we ate and loaded onto the camels for a three-hour ride to the Wadi Rum Visitors’ Center. I was so excited for this and I can’t say I was disappointed at all. My entire lower body hurts and tomorrow will probably be worse, but there’s nothing like it. My camel was named Affad and was three years old, and would sometimes trot and sometimes just amble, and at some points I was able to grab the reins and steer him. It felt really natural and easy and I think I liked it better than riding a horse. I had a Bedouin guide named Mustafa who was 18 years old.
A note on the Bedouin guides/camp: After going to China I was a little turned off by how good the Chinese were at selling their culture. My mom and I were taken on tours of silk factories, jade factories, pearl factories, cloisonne factories, everything, you name it, and they would always culminate in a giant factory store where you could buy anything you wanted. But here it’s much more subtle and doesn’t seem fake at all. The souvenir shops that we did come across were essentially rest stops, also sold food and gave us free tea, and just had some modest merchandise. The camp we stayed at didn’t even have a souvenir shop or any merchandise to sell, and the only impression we came away with was how hospitable the staff were (the same people who played music with us and danced with us all night made us breakfast the next day).
Bottom line is, you have to come to Jordan. It’s so easy to fall in love with Bedouin culture and how beautiful everything is here. The people are so nice and they’ve made it really easy to see some amazing sights.