Wadi Rum is a gorgeous desert in southern Jordan - about an hour and half away from Petra. I believe parts of Lawrence of Arabia were filmed there and it is a stunning landscape. I originally intended to do a jeep tour in the desert and make my way back to Petra, but given the abysmal public transportation in this country and everyone's assurances that sleeping in the desert was the highlight of their trip, I decided to book the jeep tour along with the sleep in a Bedouin camp option. So as it turns out, deserts are hot. Even in the afternoon. Which in theory meant I should be drinking a lot. But I had to carefully balance this need with my future need to go to the bathroom.
As some of you may know, I have an aversion to squat toilets. While apparently incredibly healthy and better for the body, for some reason they always end poorly for me. I hadn't seen any since China/Mongolia and was spared until reaching Wadi Rum. I was in the DESERT, trying not to drink so that I wouldn't have to pee. Doing it during the day was bad enough, but my biggest fear was having to go in the middle of the night. I apparently am the only person in the world who figured it was a wise idea to sleep in the desert and not have a flashlight. I should point out here - Bedouin camps are not lit up so much at night. Of course at 4 am I wake up and really really have to go. I look outside and realize that walking the several hundred feet to the outhouse is not going to work well. I strongly considered just going outside the tent (kind of what I did on Olkohn Island in Siberia, except that was in front of someone's home - really don't ask) but figured that was kind of disrespectful. Half asleep and desperate I remembered my Ipod. I literally used the backlit screen to guide me. Thankfully I was under the impression that there were no animals in this desert except for ants and beetles. The next morning I saw what were clearly tracks from an animal of some nature. Armed with this information, I think I would have chosen a bladder explosion over leaving my tent in the middle of the night.
But enough about my bodily functions. Wadi Rum was beautiful. During the day there were sand dunes, ruins and mountains to see. At night there was a gorgeous sunset followed by a sky full of stars that I can not even begin to explain. I wish my camera could have captured the beauty, but I guess this is one that will have to just remain in my head. It was pitch black and there were just thousands of stars. It was spellbinding. The Bedouin community that organizes and runs these tours are pretty interesting. On the one hand they're totally old school with their dress, customs, language and jeeps (more on that in a sec). On the other hand they're all walking around talking on their cell phones and clearly catering to a tourist community that is quite modern. The whole cell phone thing is so weird. It was sketchy enough in Petra where you could barely enjoy the fact that you were at an ancient site with all the cell phones - but I'm kind of curious about where the cell towers in this desert were....
I was in the camp with about 20 other people and we just lounged, ate, drank tea and watched the sunset and the stars. The tent was really comfortable and I think I may have had the best night's sleep since arriving here! It gets a little cold at night and it was such a treat to be unhot for a few hours. The sand got really cold overnight which I found kind of interesting when I tried to leave my tent in the middle of the night. It was such a relaxing night and the kind of moment you really need when you're a frenetic traveler (who me???) that never stops moving.
The next morning on our way back to the main "village" to get the mythical public bus, our jeep totally broke down. Now this wouldn't surprise you if you saw how these jeeps were literally held together with duct tape. Literally. There were so many wires sticking out of the ignition - I half expected Jack Bauer to show up and tell us which one to cut to diffuse the bomb. The day before it had totally conked out several times but this time it was just done. The two guys I was with were all ready to strap on their backpacks and walk. Through the desert. I was all NOT SO MUCH! The two of them got out and worked on it with him and thankfully we arrived in the village in time for the bus...