Heading for the desert

After leaving Petra, we headed for Wadi Rum, a desert area with spectacular scenery made famous by Lawrence of Arabia, the man and the movie, and by filming for various other films including the recent “The Martian”. Fred was skeptical – “We’ve done the Sahara, the Kalahari, and even the Great American Desert. Why do you want to go to the Valley of the Moon?” Denise held firm and we had wonderful time! (http://wadirum.jo)

Everyone goes to Wadi Rum to see the desert. But, in fact, the Bedu have stayed at Wadi Rum over the years because there is so much water. You won’t see it immediately, but once your eye gets trained, the signs of water are everywhere.

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Water Trap

We stayed in a luxury Bedouin camp (or tented hotel) novel and quite comfortable. We arrived rather early and found the place deserted. Probably should have made a stop en route but we were a little short on information at that point. A little more Arabic would have been useful at times!

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View of the Dining Area

However, once we sorted out what was happening, we crashed a party of Italian tourists and enjoyed a great buffet lunch of salads with chicken and rice. The meal was cooked traditionally – buried in the sand with a wood fire on top.  This, of course, made for great photo ops. The meal was further enhanced by a dancing waiter! We then relaxed for the early part of the afternoon in the shaded divan with the desert coolers running.

As the temperature began to cool, our driver arrived to take us on a tour of the desert. We made ourselves comfortable in the back of the pickup truck and headed out to our first stop; the site of the filming for the “base camp” in the movie “The Martian”. Our guide had been present at some of the filming so was very enthusiastic about it all.

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Site of Matt Damon’s base camp

We also saw several sites relating to Lawrence of Arabia (the person, not the movie) along with scenic sites like a natural rock bridge.

Our guide stopped just before sundown and made us tea in the desert before our return to the camp just after sunset.

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Tea on the Sands

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Sunset

Dinner was a traditional meal called sarb, cooked in a fire pit in the ground. We were served an excellent chicken and mutton with assorted vegetables and pilafs. The temperature was starting to drop so we headed back to our tent for the night.

 

After an excellent Arab style breakfast with hard boiled eggs, bread, foule and toppings, we headed out. We made a stop along the way at the historic train station of the Hejaz Railway where  old carriages and a locomotive could be seen. The Hejaz Railway was an engineering marvel. It was a tragedy that it was never really rebuilt following the First World War. And, in today’s political climate, it probably never will be. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hejaz_Railway)

A modern train still runs, carrying potash, we saw it several times as the camp is close to the main line.

And on to Aqaba where we hope the Queen Elizabeth awaits us! Our driver had arranged access to the port and he left us right beside the ship. Other than the fact that we were trying to go up the gangway while thousands of passengers were coming down, it was the easiest ship boarding we have ever had. We were greeted by the Purser’s office and escorted on board to our cabin. We had hoped to visit Aqaba a little before boarding but we seized the moment and a nearly empty ship to do laundry and settle in.

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As we waited to sail, we watched the Europa II depart.

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