I took a moment to catch my breath. The gigantic sand dune kept going straight up into the air and down below me the people were already looking like Polly Pocket dolls. But it was the challenge of the Wadi Rum desert that kept me climbing the sand dune. I figured Lawrence of Arabia hadn’t given up when he had crossed this desert to attack Aquaba for the Arab Revolt, so I wouldn’t stop climbing.
Once I reached the top, the view was worth it. The towering rock cliffs and wavy sand seemed to go on forever. With no vegetation or signs of civilization, it really made me wonder how Bedouins have lived in Wadi Rum for centuries. The preservation of water surely took on a new meaning here in the middle of the harsh, but magnificent desert. As I listened to my voice bounce around the desert canyons, I realized T. E. Lawrence had summed the place up well by calling it ‘vast, echoing and godlike.’
When it was time to descend, the few who had made it to the overlook decided it was best to run back down the vertical sand dune. After seeing someone wipeout halfway down in a cloud of sand, I tempered my speed to a gentle gallop and enjoyed the freedom of the sand on my feet and the feeling of letting gravity do most of the work to get me back to the desert floor.
That evening at the Bedouin-style camp was truly remarkable and unforgettable. At the camp, I wasn’t just learning about Bedouin tradition, but living it. I watched as the camp staff dug up our dinner that had been cooking deep in the sand’s heat. The cuisine enjoyed in front of the campfire tasted better than many meals I’ve had in fancy restaurants. As the evening went on, the camp staff sang traditional Arabic songs and invited our group to dance around the fire with them in light-hearted fellowship. I wound down my evening by admiring the billions of stars visible in the middle of the desert.
After this memorable experience, I spent the last days of my tour enjoying Jordan’s Red Sea and Dead Sea beaches. In the Red Sea, the focus was on the colorful marine life that lived below the bright blue water. So many fish of every shape, size and color made it seem like God had been playing with crayons when he created this coral reef.
My last day at the Dead Sea focused on the water itself, since the 27% salt content of the Dead Sea makes it impossible to sink. I bobbed up and down in the water like a cork before trying out the skin-softening mud bath. The great variety of sites I saw in just these last days more than proved Jordan’s marvelous variety of top quality attractions. Already, I’m looking forward to returning one day to the peaceful and welcoming country.