Sunday, May 6, 2012

Jordan Challenge 32: Visit a Nature Reserve

One of the worst things about realizing that my Jordan adventure is getting closer to the end is accepting the fact that there is not enough time left to do all the things I had hoped to.  So, my new strategy for getting the most out of the time I have left is to try to automatically say "yes" to opportunities that come my way on without much notice.  So when my friend Grace told me that she and her apartment were going to Dana Nature Reserve for the weekend and asked me if I wanted to come I didn't hesitate.  I just said yes. And it was great.
The sign at the "Towers" at the base of the Reserve.

Sadly, Jennifer got sick and had to back out of the trip, but the group picked up Aaron, who just arrived in Amman after a semester studying in Dubai.  He'll be travelling in some other parts of the Middle East soon, but also accepted Grace's invitation to check out the Dana Nature Reserve.

Our awesome campsite.  Lovely roomy tents, food and bathroom facilities, and best of all, a Bedouin tent for tea and socializing.

Grace, Hannah and I as Happy Campers!  Always wanted to be able to put that in a caption.

When you arrive at the Reserve, you check in at the Main Office, and then, if you are like us, and staying at the Camp Site, you get shuttled down in a truck.  From there, you get assigned a tent and depending on your time frame, can pick any of a number of hikes to do.  If you do an unaccompanied hike, a guide will give you instructions on how to take the trail, which is usually marked not by signs but by piles of rocks at crucial points.  We did two short hikes.  Our first day we did the "Cave Trail" before dinner and on the second we did "The Mountain" after breakfast.  Although both turned out to be shorter than we expected, both had a few stretches of scrambling sufficiently challenging enough to cut our chatter short and get us panting in the sun a little.  The camp site is in a spectacular setting, and one of my favorite things was just climbing around the nearby rocks and looking at the mountains of the area in the early morning before breakfast.

Hannah, Grace, Aaron and I at the mouth of the big cave on your Cave Hike.

Aaron and Grace taking a breather before tackling another level of the cave.

Aaron and Hannah sitting on the rocks in the early morning before breakfast.
Our drive back including a stretch along the Dead Sea, which afforded Aaron the opportunity to take a quick dip and be able to experience the amazing buoyancy that always surprises everyone who goes in the water -- although he paid for the experience of roadside (i.e. no-shower) bathing with itchy skin all the way back to Amman.
In the Dead Sea everything and everyone floats, as Aaron demonstrates here.

Once a long trip enters its home stretch (I've been here eight months, with a little over seven weeks left to go), I think there is the tendency to start mentally disengaging, and I would hate to do that, since there are still so many things I want to do, and people I want to spend time with.  Going to Dana helped to remind me of that, besides being a spectacular site in its own right.  Definitely a great way to spend a weekend!

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