|The beige truck is Salamah's, and he's sitting patiently next to it, waiting for us to climb down and head to the next site.|
|The siq was pretty narrow in parts, and lots of fun to explore.|
|Here we are on top of the Red Dune -- after some strenuous effort to get there....|
|...and Chris rolling back down (rolling, that is, til he ran into the scrubby bush standing in front of him in this picture).|
|Chris and I on top of Big Bridge...|
|and coming back down -- which is scarier than the uphill part.|
Of course, Chris also needed to try out camel riding, so we did some of that before we began our tour, and about midway through the day Salamah made the suggestion that we not go to a camp in the evening.
|First stop on the tour: a couple kilometers on the back of a camel.|
He offered to pick up some blankets and food, and set us up at a site in the desert instead. We knew it would be a full moon that night, and the idea of sleeping directly under the stars with a minimum of gear, noise or other people had a lot of appeal.
|Salamah made roasted chicken for dinner over the fire. Note the cell phone-as-flashlight function.|
|Salamah's friend, Salaam, showing off his favorite cigarette brand in between extolling the virtues of the carefree Bedouin existence.|
The next morning when I woke up, Chris was nowhere to be seen until I looked up. In the wee hours of the morning he had woken up and hiked to the top of a sand dune with his cushion and blanket in order to sleep get a full view of the morning sunrise and early-morning creatures-- two and four-legged -- who would be out on the desert tracks below. When we were all up, we gathered some more wood and Salamah brewed still more sweet tea and put some bread on the fire for a camp side breakfast before we broke things down and headed back to the main road to catch a local ride back to Aqaba.
|Nothing looks quite as scruffy as a campsite the morning after sleeping around the fire, but it surely served us well.|
An expression you hear a lot in Jordan is "as you like". It can take on a whole range of meanings from "okay have it your way, but you're an idiot" (when, for example, you're about to foolishly disregard someone's obviously sound advise) to "whatever you want, but don't be stingy" (when a taxi driver doesn't turn on the meter and wants to guilt you into paying a generous fare). But in the case of Wadi Rum, I think it means that the choices you make, from which sites to visit, how you get there, and how many creature comforts you part with along the way, will have huge impacts on the experience. Roughing it in Wadi Rum left me with sore calf muscles, a lot of sand in my hair, and tons of great memories and images. As experiences go, it's a winner.