Rum Diary

When I accepted this post last July and knew I would be moving to Jordan, the first place that came to mind was Wadi Rum. My Dad’s all time favorite movie is Lawrence of Arabia and I think I was about seven when I watched my first installment of the four hour marathon. Anthony Quinn, in his gruff voice, barks something like “Welcome to Wadi Rum” and that really dramatic music comes on as the camera opens onto the valley. Though I probably fell asleep a half hour into the movie, even then I remember thinking how incredible the desert looked. Recently I spent a weekend in Wadi Rum and got my first real taste of the place.


Rakabat Canyon on the Eastern side of Jebel Um Ushrin

I would like to say I’ve always had a love for the desert but in truth it was Edward Abbey that moved me in that direction. After reading Desert Solitaire a few years ago, I have thought about planning a trip to the red rock of Southern Utah almost constantly. As of yet I have not made it but  Wadi Rum had a similar appeal.
View from Camp facing Jebel Khazali
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Oh Dana

A couple of weeks back Katrina and I organized a trip down to Dana Nature Reserve. Dana, pronounced like the Ritchie Valens song, is the largest reserve in Jordan and located around three hours South of Amman. After getting lost a couple of times and dead ending at a group of tipsy, sneering shebab, our two car caravan rendezvoused with Katrina at the campsite just after dusk. We were greeted warmly by our hosts and escorted down the hill to our tents overlooking a wide valley. The location of the camp was incredible. We were a good distance from town and several miles from any paved roads. After dropping our packs our group convened in the large communal tent at the North end of the camp. After a simple dinner of stewed vegetables, hummus, and pita we smoked arguile at the foot the canyon under a full moon before heading to our tents.

Camp

The next morning we awoke to catch the remnants of the sunrise, eat a light breakfast, and hop into a pimped out van to take us to our trailhead above Wadi Feynan. There were around ten of us that crammed into the silver Korean made van with pastel shaded geometric shapes and phrases like “turbo intercooler” decaled on the side. I sat up front with our driver Mahmoud, and our Guide (Mahmoud) who looked ready for a jungle scuffle in his full fatigues. Mahmoud and Mahmoud blasted a mix of Arabic pop, rap, and top 40 and looked to all of us for approval, they seemed content by the the dance party in the back of the bus.
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