29 June 2012

Dana Again
Top Spring
More Chai
David’s Birthday

We didn’t take the lift to Petra with the french today, as David & Sophia couldn’t get a bus, and we didn’t want to ditch them before the big 19th!  This ment another day hanging out in Dana.  What a shame.  We still haven’t gotten sick of the view.

As we had already walked around town, over the hill, and done the blog, we took it easy for the morning.  Catching up with our reading, and looking online.  This lead toa midday snooze, as it is too hot to go walking.  At about three it was cool enough to go outside without being burnt to a crisp.

Our small walk for the day was to go up to the top spring.  This was about a quarter of the way down from the top of the ridge.  It is an easy walk.  Especially if you take the road.  As you go up the hill the view changes every couple of metres.  And climbing higher you get a good view of the town, perched on a ridge overlooking the Wadi.

No Pool, but you make do

There were a few people at the top of the road, and saying hello we had a quick chat.  Well tried to.  We found out that it was OK for us to continue up.  No problems.  Continuing along the road, there were a few people under a tree above us.  They called out for us to join them, so we scrambled up the rocks.  This is near where the spring is.  We should have taken the steps.  After introductions we were ushered over to where the women were.  This is the spring proper.  There is a big cement slab, and at the bottom of this is a small round hole.  Big enough for a small child.  The water flows from under the slab into the hole.  From there it is piped to a larger area where a group of women were sitting washing wool.  they had already done piles of it and had spread it out over the cement to dry.  Bags of wool were below them waiting to be done.  Here we had more conversation, as some of the women spoke a little english, and we found out it was sheep’s wool, and not goat.  They wash it, separate it and turn it into a rough yarn.

Anna and the ladies looking for Dags

The women gestured for Anna to sit down and join in.  While Andrew was allowed to take some photos.  This is unusual as most women are against photos.  So here is Anna sitting on the wet sides moving her hands around in the water looking for dagsand washing out the dirt.  The young children running around or staring at us,and all the guys laughing.  Then the invite for Chai came, and we had to move into the shade.  This was good, as it was still hot.  We refilled our water bottles from the spring, which was refreshingly cool, and headed over to the tree to talk to the men.  This was good.  There was a 33 y/o and a few older gents,and we had a great time drinking tea and getting taught arabic words.  The bread and vegetables came out, and they would not let us say no.  So we were now munching away and drinking tea.  We did not want to interrupt their day too much, so we made our apologies.  Still we were not allowed to leave.  We had not had three cups of tea yet.  After the third cup we were allowed to leave.  Going back up to the well, we made our goodbyes to the women and headed down the stairs.  At the bottom was a group of young men.  They invited us over for watermelon, but

Leave me alone already!

Anna had seen a donkey and was blind to anything else.  She grabbed the camera and went over to snap some photos while Andrew got introduced to everyone.  This was a lot of fun, and we thought the donkey would look good with sunnies on.  Anna politely declined a ride on the donkey, as it had just brought up a load of wool or something, and needed a break in the shade, and we moved on.

Further down the hill we sat in the middle of nowhere, away from people,to relax and enjoy the view.  Suddenly a boy starts wandering over and invites us to where his family were having Chai and for us to join them.  We go over to the picnic spot.  Here is a large family.  We are sat down on the rug and bombarded with questions like usual.  You can start to answer one question when three more are being asked.  This is a big family, there are the grandparents, and three of their seven children.  Partners and a few grandchildren running around.  They were from the Dead Sea and up here for a friday picnic. Friday is our sunday.  We were given freshly baked bread that was thick, hot and very tasty.  Explaining where we are from, married for 6 years and no children, but in shallah.  (This seems to work, as when we say no kids we are asked why, and is very hard for people to understand we don’t want any)  What football teams we followed, and what we thought of Jordan.  In reverse it turns out that two of the brothers are

What did I do officer?

Police officers and the women are well educated (they are the ones that spoke english, and we all turned to two of them to translate).  It was very pleasant, then the salad, potatoes and chicken came out.  Followed by More Chi.  Andrew also got an arabic lesson.  The colours.  Unfortunately they all sound very similar, and when he kept getting them wrong, a big stick got produced to rap him over the knuckles if he got them wrong.  which he did.  It was very theatrical, and everyone burst out laughing after the rap.  His hair also attracted a lot of attention.  Like usual as well, but this time more open.  The grandmother really disapproved, but all the rest of the family seemed to like it.  After lots of Chai, and learning the ingredients in Arabic: teabags, sugar, mint and sage.  we were allowed to politely leave and let them pack up to go home.

Back at the Dana hotel.  More tea to celebrate the sunset, and David & Sophia are in  helping cook Manshef.  A traditional bedouin meal for dinner tonight.

The Dana Hotel Co-Operative:  Khalid Khawaldeh is a founding member.

This hotel was set up as a co-operative.  It was created in response to the Dana Nature Reserve.  Apparently there is supposed to be money put aside for social programs to help the people who had to relocate after the park was created.  Education, infrastructure, health etc.  There was an issue that this was being reported to the UN as being done, and the UN sent out translators to see the progress and ask the people what they thought.  As all the people affected did not speak english the translator apparently only said what the observers wanted to hear, and nothing was being done for the people.  The co-op was created to raise money from tourism to provide these.  At the moment they have bought a minibus to act as a taxi to the closest town a few kilometres away.  They are also sponsoring children for school and uni.  Computer training and english are big priorities.  Sports programs and the like.  It is a good initiative, and will update this more after Khalid gets back to us.
It is a great hotel, and definitely a time warp, as we were only supposed to be here for a night or two, and it is now four days later!

The reserve is doing things for communities.  They are helping with arts and crafts as well as some education programs for the local people as well.



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