We are in Wadi Rum, an elevated desert valley in western Jordan. This is Lawrence of Arabia
|Peter O'Toole as Lawrence|
We abandon our small bus and load up "jeeps" - actually clapped out Toyota utes with bench seats on the deck. A form of transport that would have a health and safety inspector whipping out a clipboard and fine notice in one second flat. Fortunately there are no safety inspectors about.
But we do have the Zalabia Bedouin, our hosts for an overnight stay in the desert.
|the safety inspector's nightmare|
The desert here is different from other desert I've seen, for example in Dubai where it is sand-hill after sand-hill with no relief or defining characteristics - other than sand.
We have the choice of sleeping in sturdy tents spun from camel and goat hair (m mmmm), or dragging our mattresses out onto the sand and sleeping under the stars. No contest. The tents are stiflingly hot, and the night sky away from city lights is stunning.
The Milky Way is clearly delineated and the sky a flood of stars. Contrary to popular belief, the desert is not cold at night - at least this one isn't. But before bed, we trudge up the dunes and settle in to watch the desert sun set, then enjoy dinner under the evening sky (see previous blog post).
|going below sea level without getting wet|
|salt crystals on the rocks at the Dead sea|
Aqaba is very different from other towns or cities in Jordan. the presence of water makes a difference - it is the only point where Jordan has a coast. There must be desalination plants operating full time as the city has lovely gardens and roadside plantings which is a stark opposite to the uniform sandstone colour of other places.
So that's Jordan - I'm glad I went, and so are the Jordanians. Yes, really. Tourism has dropped off considerably since the Syria conflict started and so they are grateful that people keep coming. Except of course, they are not so grateful for the 2 million Syrian refugees wanting to get across the border. So, it's wait and see time.