I am peaceful and calm as I sit here in the desert with Michael, three camels, some goats and my Bedouin friends. It is hot, very hot, but we are sheltering in the shade of a large rock while we wait for the cool of late afternoon to continue our camel trek.
Michael is taking the opportunity to catch up on some sleep. Our Bedouin guide is chatting to some Bedouin goat herders, their voices echoing of the nearby hills. The camels switch between sleeping and eating the small green bushes that litter the desert sands.
This is day two of our journey through Wadi Rum, the most accessible of Jordan’s deserts. We farewelled Petra yesterday, leaving on the 8:30 tourist bus bound for Wadi Rum. By all accounts, there are normally five or six tourists on this daily bus. Yesterday, it was so full that we left one of the guides at home to let the last person on.
Arriving in Wadi Rum, the craziness of matching tourist with luggage with tour guide begins. We hear the cry we’ve been waiting for: “Attayek Ali, Attayek Ali…who’s here for Attayek Ali?”, grab our luggage and head towards the waiting committee outside the small concrete shack that is the Bedouin Journey office.
Following the obligatory (full of sugar) tea, we head off into the desert to the sounds of Gangnam Style and Boom Boom Boom by the Black Eyed Peas. Not quite what you’d expect in the Jordanian desert, but then I didn’t really know what to expect.
For the next two days we are to see nothing but sand, rocky hills, jeeps, tourists and the odd camel (like the ones we’re on today). I think our tour guide only owned two songs, and we were glad to leave the jeep even though most of the ‘amazing tourist destinations’ we visited were not much more than a little canyon, a small boulder or a sand hill.
Not that it mattered. The desert is peaceful, so peaceful. Tourists stop chattering (most of the time) and even though there might be large groups of people taking photos or enjoying the sunset, you feel like you’re the only one there.
That said, today we were the only ones there. Where we were anyway. And although the camels weren’t the most comfortable of rides (ask Michael about the pain they caused), it was worth it just to say you’ve ridden one. And we were able to enjoy the peace and quiet of the desert. Over Michael’s moanings.
The highlight for me was a short walk through a canyon on our first day there. It required a tiny bit of bouldering, and ended in the view below. Simply marvellous.