“Prisoner” Of The Bedouins Of Jordan
Evoking images of Bedouins moving around or better said floating on the dunes of the desert, gliding on vast sandy lands, in fact lands consisting only in sand if we were to look at the desert part only…there is a country in the Middle East which by means of all the sometimes breathtaking beautiful vast desert barren landscapes with famous sands colored much like the color of the old whiskey, certainly managed to conquer the heart of many.
The whiskey comparison is directed towards all the heavy or moderate consumers of this alcoholic beverage and thus persons who supposedly know the color of old whiskey…I may as such, choose to paraphrase the To be or not to be phrase with “to be or not to be whiskey”…And just in case you may not be a connoisseur into whiskey matters, you may happen to know the country I am talking or better said writing about, namely Jordan.
A tiny parcel of desert or the kingdom of desert as many refer to it like this, Jordan is a well known Arab country if not for its beauty and many, but many places worth being visited there, then certainly for being surrounded by rather hot areas such as Israel to the west, Saudi Arabia to the south and east, Iraq to the north-east and of course Syria to the north. And if you haven’t heard about all these countries, probably having your ears all covered, then you most certainly heard about Bedouins and their enchanting stories and wisdom words, about the desert, about the sheiks inhabiting these lands which they call home, about the Gulf of Aqaba and there is no way one could forget mentioning the Dead Sea.
And since the equation of a country like Jordan (if any such equation at all and of course on condition you are keen on math) gets to be incomplete without mentioning wandering or camping across Wadi Rum…I shall nevertheless allow you to leave the scene of Jordan with just a mentioning of this valley that once made the subject of love and not love only, but also a camping headquarter for the campaigns carried there by no one else but Lawrence of Arabia. And what better place to camp if not in a valley magnificently sculptured through granite and sandstone and also the largest such valley there on Jordan lands? As Lawrence of Arabia did camp there once, so can you…once or twice or as many times you may wish to!
In case you never watched the movie Lawrence of Arabia so far, it is high time you did this before or after heading towards those lands. You’ll thus get the chance to see that everything there is much like in the movie…meaning just you and nature. Still, going there you’ll need to be guided by a local Bedouin, a man who certainly knows his way through the sand dunes and different rock formations known under the name of jebels being scattered all around the place! A close friend of mine visited those lands and at his return portrayed to me in words and images the magnificent yet to many, unusual landscape that lies there in the south western part of Jordan. I have to admit I ended being fascinated at the very sight of the mountains of granite and sandstones rising in the very vicinity of the valleys filled with red sand.
And just to make you picture such a place, you’d need to crayon a landscape filled with vast amounts of sand, mountains reaching various heights, with slopes just inviting those seeking for some adventure to climb them. To many, the landscape of this valley called Wadi Rum may seem unearthly. Apart from the movie making us witness the many adventures of Lawrence of Arabia, I did manage to find out that this place also served as a location for a movie about Mars…so that awkward and unearthly does this place look to some! Also known under the name of “Valley Of The Moon”, people must have had their own reasons for declaring this place a protected area, thing which is said to have happened in 1998.
It could be said that when there, the tourist and the nomad guide, both tour their way through the sand and mountains. Yet, as the last ones have already most certainly got used to the surroundings in which they have woken up for just about the last one thousand years and thus already had the chance to get used to them, only the tourists will probably end up being amazed by the scenery being presented to them, a scenery made of superb canyons, cliffs and the all pervading orange reddish sand.
Perhaps waking up in a Bedouin goat hair tent, getting to witness the rays of the new day, this time one carrying with it aromas of cardamom-spiced coffee, a coffee one has the chance to serve in an amazing valley of Jordan, namely Wadi Rum, one would end up getting in love with the desert. If you were to follow the advice of the Bedouins, your trip to Jordan should start in the desert of Wadi Rum mainly because as they say “in order to understand Jordan and take things easy”, there is no better place to do this than in the vast silence of the desert. And as they are “desert dwellers”, people who have learned to survive in the barren desert landscape, Bedouins will welcome you to the deserts of Jordan.
Well known for their hospitality, Bedouins will get to also enchant you with some Arabic coffee, their stories and their poems and words of wisdom. For all those who happen to be fascinated by the idea of moving around across the vast desert landscape, in search for the next oasis, the Bedouin culture never ceased to be an amazing one. Many have settled today, but still there remain some who prefer wandering in search for water and food.
When finding yourself camped in the Wadi Rum desert being accompanied by some Bedouin guide you’d get to have plenty of food and certainly hot sweet tea and coffee. This should appease your worries, in case there were any, mainly because the whole Bedouin culture dictates hospitality and high treatment of any guests that step the thresholds of their goat hair tents. There is even a famous joke they make, a joke connected with this hospitality of theirs, one which says that a Bedouin often tells to himself: “You are our guest; you are our prisoner.” So, once there, you really get to be their “prisoner” or better said the prisoner of the breathtaking desert landscape.11