wake up on hill
drive to little Petra
“taxi of hell” to Wadi Rum
issues at entrance
camp with Awad
We were up early, basically with the sunrise, and as Awad refuses to see a dentist, his tooth was still hurting. So we made tea, and he brought the car around. At least it was working. We loaded everything up and hit the track back to little Petra. This was not too bad, and we arrived in good time.
Previously we had made a booking at Ataya bluey (a bedouin camp in Wadi Rum), and cancelled it to stay with Awad on the hill. Now we had to organise a taxi over to Wadi Rum, where we were still planning on staying. Awad arranged a taxi for us the night before to pick us up, and we had to be there for it.
This was no problem, we grabbed our bags, and the car drove right up to the cave. It was a large tray backed Toyota, and although there was a woman and several kids in the car, we thought we would have plenty of room during the ride.
The kids were dropped off at the entrance to little Petra, and the husband and very pregnant wife returned. Here is where we find that she will be coming with us. This ment there were 6 people in the five seater. Ok, we had David in the front, Pregnant Lady, Sophia, Anna on the back seat, and Andrew half sitting on Anna and half on the seat. At least the luggage was all in the tray. This was not too bad. Uncomfortable, yes. Hell? No. However the back drivers window was down, along with the drivers. This created the unfortunate situation of Andrew having his head half stuck out in the wind. Choking for each breath, while Anna was being attacked by his dreads. It would have been fine if it was a short trip, or a bit slower, but this guy was flying along for most of the hour and a half we were stuck in this position.
On arriving at Wadi Rum we were finally able to unload ourselves and our stuff from the vehicle, and draw the first breath of decent air. Andrew visibly changed colour! This is when we found out that he was taking his wife to Aqaba! We had just paid 35JD for a trip he was going to make anyway, and went through hell to do it!
At the entrance we sat for a bit to calm down, and catch our breath. Sophia and David went for a rest break, and we sat there for a bit. A guy drove past and stopped, asking if we were right, or if we wanted a lift to Rum Village, where we could organise tours and accommodation. We thanked him for his offer, and went to ask the other two. Group consensus is always hard, and this took a while, so not wanting the friendly guy wait for too long, when we don’t even know if we will take his offer, Andrew went back to let him know that we would be right, and thanks for the offer. But to do this, he had to race back and buy a ticket, as the guards would not let him past. On going back I found that they had called Ataya Bluey and booked. This was fine, as we were planning on staying there anyway. When the car they sent for us eventually arrived, we thought we would reconfirm the price that we had agreed on before. Talking to the driver, we found that the 25JD a night per tent had turned into 25JD per person. A quick phonecall to the camp ended in abuse from somebody, so we decided not to go there.
This left us at the info center and out of luck. However the driver was not a bad guy and said that another person would look after us. Being a bit suspicious, we were hesitant at the moment, and I am a bit over the feeding frenzy that happens on tired or confused tourists. Especially when we are the tired, dazed & confused tourists in question.
After the discussion on the phone, the police invited us in for a conversation as they had overheard part of the conversation. They just wanted to make sure that everything was OK, and as Jordan is reliant on foreign aid and tourism, they take things like this very seriously. The best thing about this was the air conditioning in the station, and soon enough we were let back out.
Talking to another camp person, he offered us a camp for 75JD for the four of us over two nights. Including breakfast (No hopes on this. Flat bread, cheese, (NO) hommes, sugar cake, jam and tea), and dinner. High hopes on that. Finding out there was hot water sealed it. It was a good deal. The same as Dana, so we took it. Loading our gear into his truck converted into a bedouin tuktuk we were off.
Apparently we had to go to his house first for a little bit. OK, no problem. He invited us into the house, but stayed outside. His wife came out with chai, and we were introduced to her and the kids. Also finding out our host’s name is Awad as well. A good sign (Well, Bluey was a good sign too, and it backfired. Can’t happen twice right?) although we were wondering why we couldn’t go straight out to the camp. He said there was a nice 3Km walk around to a Nabataean temple from the village, but we thought we would do that the day we left.
Rum Village reminded us of the communities. There are cars everywhere, some with chocks under the wheels, others with the bonnet up, and dusty dirt roads make up the majority of the town. There is a bitumen strip winding through the most important sections. A few shops here and there. Two schools (Boys and Girls separate) and the guest house. The tents on offer here look like the hand-me-downs from a refugee camp. Going to the local shop, we found it caged and locked tight. However Awad called the owner, and he came down to open it up for us. A bit disappointing for him, as we only bought a few things to munch on later today.
Eventually we made it clear that we wanted to go out to the camp, have a shower and be able to relax for a bit before we tackled Wadi Rum. So we all got back into the truck for the drive out. The scenery here is brilliant. The high rock walls, and open spaces. Most of these rocks look like they have been thrust straight up from the ground, and are clumped together in groups. The sand is everywhere, and we were quite surprised by how much was growing there. It looks similar to central Australia, but instead of spinifex, they have another type of plant.
At the camp, our senses started tingling, but we were at least 10km from town, and reliant on Awad. The camp itself had not been used for a while, and there was sand covering everything. Most of the mats in the communal hall were strewn over the place, and when we checked out the rooms we found that the sheets had not been changed. This was an issue. Checking out the bathroom, there was no hot water as promised, and it was in need of demolition and a complete rebuild. No electricity, although we thought this would not be a problem.
Well, for the money, what did we expect? We settled down in the only shady spot in the camp, and looked up at the walls around us. It is in a really good position. There is protection on the north and south, east the walls come together a little way from the camp, leaving the entrance to the west. This is near sunset rock, a nice place to view the sunset, going from its name. As we had no plans for the afternoon, we sat there playing cards, waiting for it to cool down, so we could go for a walk. During this time Awad sat besides us. This was fairly uncomfortable, as we were not sure of his level in english. Sometimes it seemed fine, and others was non existent. We wanted to bitch about the camp, and hang by ourselves, but this was not an option. We understand we are his responsibility, and he is there if anything happens. After the toilet broke, and half the retaining wall where we were collapsed, we just wanted some space.
As it cooled down, we went for a walk. At this time Awad decided to go back to his house to prepare dinner for us. Typical. Still it was a good walk around the hills. We had two maps. One in the old Lonely Planet we have, and another from Information. Neither map match, and they don’t match the landscape either! So that made for an interesting walk, and we only went around part of our hill. This was good. A bit of sand in the shoes, a large orange dune, sitting on the rocks overlooking Wadi Rum. This is how it is supposed to be.
After walking back, we wanted to go to Sunset Rock, however there were already three or four vehicles there, and a lot of people were on the hill already. Not wanting to join them, we pulled up a patch of sand, and sat there watching sunset. The Jordanians do not have the concept of sunset yet. They all like to sit there watching the sun go down. We were facing the other direction, watching the rocks change colour, and the shadows creep up over the sand. The changes are quite subtle, and not as vivid as Mimili, but still good to see.
On turning around occasionally, we saw the sun dipping down between two hills. This sent sunbeams out over the desert, and when there was some wind it picked up the sand, swirling it through the light. A great sight in itself, so the Jordanians may have an idea after all.
Walking back to the camp, we were all set for dinner. Mansaf. Rice & Chicken. A little bit of salad on the side. Annerieke’s hints about being vegetarian “I don’t eat meat” didn’t work. (Anna just wanted to make sure vegetables would be available) The dinner was ok, but not a patch on Dana. After dinner we had the same problem of Awad. Anna asked for fresh sheets, but magically his english skills completely disappeared and he had no idea what she was on about. After persisting and explaining that Anna thought the sheets had been used before, and fresh sheets should be available, his english returned and he told us the sheets had been freshly put on yesterday. Yeah, right.. after pointing out the layer of dust, he changed his mind and told us the sheets were put on 2 weeks ago, but nobody had stayed in the camp since. Either way it felt like he was lying to us. As there was no privacy to be had, we all retired to bed early. With our ONE candle per tent. Needless to say we all ended up in our tent talking for the next few hours, or just outside looking at the stars. The comparison was that it is like summer camp, and we had to sneak into the others room. OK there was a little alcohol involved as well…