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petra and wadi rum

November 16, 2010

Hello from not-Jordan! I’ll tell you more about my current trip later, but for now, here’s this post a couple weeks late. I came back with from Petra and Wadi Rum with a head so full of thoughts that I didn’t bother to sort them out. Enjoy the clutter.

This journey was a perfect break from real life for me, and one that came blessedly early in my time here (I was the newest to the country of my group, by at least a couple weeks). How to describe these wonderful people, into whose plans I just kind of…fell? I traveled with a handful of Americans from all corners of the country and one Brazilian. Or: one married couple and four single girls. Or: four college grads, one undergrad, and one post-high school gap year girl. Or: two blondes, three brunettes, and one…me. Along the way, we also adopted a pair of Turks into our group, which turned out to be one of the best happenstances of the trip: a serendipitous meeting of new friends who made the whole exploring-the-desert thing that much richer. And funnier. I hadn’t laughed so much and so hard in ages, and suddenly it seemed like all I was doing was laughing.

And how to describe the range of experiences I got to have in two packed days? I explored ancient ruins and pristine nature. Jostled through the desert in the back of a Jeep and burrowed my feet in fine, red sand. Marveled at what man and God can do.

Petra is insane. It really is. It’s definitely a must-see, even though they are raising the price to something totally crazy. And I might even go again sometime before I leave, because one day was not enough to do it justice. But I did feel a jolt of shock at what some of the other tourists there were wearing—short shorts and tank tops—and I cringed. “They might as well be naked!” I whispered to my companions, who were also staring. Seriously: for the first twenty minutes or so, I passed each of those under-dressed tourists feeling a little embarrassed on their behalf, as if they were walking around with their underwear showing and just had no idea. (I mean, in a way they kind of were.) Once I adjusted to how different it was to be in tourist country, I relaxed considerably and felt freer than I ever have in public since I arrived. I could laugh and use my normal (loud) voice and roll up my pants without worrying about how I was being perceived. Amazing! Unfortunately, letting our guard down had a downside, too, which we realized when a new Bedouin friend at the Wadi Rum campsite was, in fact, just trolling for a new foreign conquest or two…which dawned on us when he nonchalantly suggested that another girl and I take a nighttime visit to his cave. HIS CAVE. I didn’t know whether to gag or laugh, so I did both.

In a nutshell: I bonded with a new group of crazy interesting and diverse people, swapping stories, sharing laughs, and scrambling up rocky cliffs together. I broke bread with kindred spirits and listened to tales of experiences completely alien to me. But I also reveled in the deep sense of aloneness you can only get when you’re standing on top of a mountain in the middle of the desert. Felt terribly small as I shivered beneath an endless sky of stars, and terribly large as my laugh tumbled out of me without restraint into the empty air.

Anyway, when I was in Ireland, I remember being startled by how many versions of “green” I encountered, and how startlingly beautiful some of them were. You think you know green–you’ve seen it in your backyard, or in movies, or driving through the countryside, and you think, “Yeah, really green grass is pretty, I guess.” And then you stand on an Irish hillside and suddenly you realize you just had no idea. Really. You didn’t know it could look…like this. In the same way, spending some quality time in the desert gave a whole new life and meaning to colors I’d only thought of as boring until then. Beige, apricot, brown, khaki, burnt sienna. Break out the 64 box of Crayolas, kids, because you’re gonna need it. Shuf:

*Also, I downloaded Picasa on a whim and tried it out on these collages…pretty limited options, but works in a pinch when I don’t want to overload you with photos. Win.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Brian permalink
    November 17, 2010 6:42 am

    Fantastic. I’m incredibly jealous.

  2. Mom permalink
    November 21, 2010 1:25 pm

    64 crayons, 128? No way those could in anyway capture the hues… Returned your library books and paid the heavy fines. Listen, you are a lover of books, I will say I donated to the public library. I wanted to be a “friend of the library” anyway. While I was out I got a haircut as well.

    • November 22, 2010 12:23 am

      hahahahhahaha. haha. thanks for donating in my name. i don’t even wanna know how much the fines were. but i’m glad you were able to be so productive…

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