Under a Blanket of Stars in Wadi Rum

“Vast, echoing and God-like” – these are the words T.E. Lawrence used in describing Wadi Wadi Rum Rum, the largest and most magnificent of Jordan’s desert landscapes. As we made our way through the maze of monolithic rockscape by 4×4 into the setting sun, I had finally felt like I was part of Jordan, enjoying the tranquility of the boundless empty spaces. At that point, I had no idea just how much I was going to learn about the land, the culture, and the people. Wadi Rum was a life-changing journey; here, amid the stupendous cliffs, canyons, and endless deserts, Jordanian life took on a different perspective.

We stopped at a stone bridge and were given the opportunity to climb to the top for a photo. Rather than being consumed with getting a great shot, I took my time at the top and scanned the spectacular treasures the vast wilderness placed before my eyes.

Wadi Rum Wadi RumWe arrived at Captain’s Desert Camp for the evening and a more authentic exploration began. After settling into our Bedouin style tents, we gathered for dinner. Our meal consisted of traditional Jordanian foods including hummus, meats, and shraak bread that was made fresh right before our eyes. Two local hosts played music and smoked hookah pipes while we shared stories from our travels. 

Wadi Rum

Dinner was fantastic. The family-style environment and local entertainment made me feel relaxed and at ease. Dancing followed dinner and everyone joined in. Our guide, Ibrahim, encouraged even the shyest guest to shake their grove thing. He was so free-spirited without a hint of embarrassment. It was like watching an innocent child filled with complete happiness and liberation. I wondered when was the last time I was so uninhibited. Could that be a cultural thing? Are all Jordanians so willing to dance? Are they all such good dancers? My mind started to drift to the dozens of cultural questions that I had. I realized how little I knew about Jordanian culture.

Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum

Samer, one of our tourism reps, and a local, was sitting on a blanket and taking in the beauty that filled the night. He was alone, and I saw it as the perfect opportunity to chat with him and ask a few cultural questions.

Two hours had passed and we were still deeply immersed in conversation. We covered Wadi Rumeverything from relationships, marriage, and family to religion, government, and culture. I even asked what seemed like taboo questions and the conversation never turned awkward. Samer’s outlook on life, family, and relationships is so welcoming and beautiful that I have a new respect for his culture and faith. I’m considering going to a mosque now that I’m back in North Carolina because I’m still so curious about Muslim faith and beliefs. Before, I didn’t even know if I was welcome in a mosque, and I didn’t know who to ask. It all seemed foreign to me but with his conversation, I feel a little more connected.

Under a blanket of stars, I was given an unexpected gift of knowledge. I went to university for seven years and studied history my entire life, but I gained more understanding of Jordan in those few hours with Samer than a lifetime in the classroom. Wadi Rum wasn’t just a connection to the land, it was a connection to its people.

Thank you Samer!

Advertisements

68 thoughts on “Under a Blanket of Stars in Wadi Rum

  1. Great story, and I liked the line about not being consumed with getting the perfect photo. Sometimes I’m guilty of that and I have to remind myself to actually savor the breathtaking scenery that I may never gaze upon again.

    Like

    • I wish that I had my own personal photographer and I never had to worry about trying to capture it. It would be great to just live in the moment and completely forget about everything else, but then I’d never be able to share it with others how may not have the same opportunities; that makes it all worth it 🙂

      Like

    • Every new country that I experience and every new culture that I’m exposed to changes my life for the better. I hope that I can show my daughter the beauty of the world and its people. We are all better for it. 🙂

      Like

  2. Wow, great post and great to experience it again; nice you had a real talk with Samer; so much knowledge comes from other points of view and other cultures. And to answer your question a few posts ago, this Wadi rum was one of my greater Jordan experiences, amazing nights and shapes in that desert. Ofcourse Petra, the dead sea, snorkeling the red sea, Amman and all were superb too.
    Thanks for sharing, all the best to you, Ron.

    Like

  3. What an amazing trip and blog post you have written! I love all religions, as they are all paths home. Once again your words are a pleasure for my mind! Thank you for sharing your life with us. I Love YOU! :~)

    Like

  4. Sounds wonderful. I would love to spend more time in Jordan.

    I’m glad you were able to discuss culture and religion. In the middle east, people discuss religion so openly because of the multitude of faiths. I taught at a seminary in Lebanon, and it was fascinating.

    I also taught comparative religion in a secular college, including Islam. It’s hard to understand Islam on your own but reading through some of the short chapters of the Qur’an might be interesting to you.

    Like

  5. I have to admit I shied away from actually reading your posts on Jordan even though I smiled a bit when I would see the name come up in my emails.
    You see my son, Jordan, passed in 2009. Today I finally read this post and see things almost as I see my boy. Free to play in peace with God.
    I imagine him standing on those beautiful red looking rocks just as he did on the rocks in Sedona, Arizona with his brothers back when.
    Thank you so much for sharing, such a lift up.

    Like

  6. Fascinating. Can’t wait to hear more.
    For ten years I used to host international students who came to Canada to study English for intervals of a month, some for a year. I met some Jordanians. The world is an interesting place as are its people.

    Like

  7. Thanks for sharing your time in Jordan. I would love to experience the wonderful times you had. While I’ve been to Jordan it was only to Ammon, Mt Nebo and Petra. We were on our way to Israel and Egypt. I’d like to go back now just to Jordan! While I’m thankful for the time we had I’d like to go back and take the time to just explore Jordan…

    Like

  8. Perhaps if we could all have the same kind of education. If we would open our ears and our minds … perhaps … just perhaps … some of the mindless tragedy in the Middle East could be averted.

    Like

  9. Glad to see you are enjoying Jordan. Maybe if more will discuss culture and religion,
    we could avoide tragedy in Middle East. And it is not getting easy as you continue to study as I did, BA in Middle East and Islamic Studies. Thank you!!

    Like

  10. What a fabulous experience. Our tour guide in Jordan was also very open and took us to his parents’ house for tea which was wonderful too. We learned so much about the culture walking and talking with Ahmed. I hope your trip continues to warm your soul. 🙂

    Like

  11. Thank you. I’ve never been to Jordan, but years ago my brother spent several weeks there. It made quite an impression on him and I’ve always been curious about it. Your post brought that back!

    Like

  12. Lesley, did you read Three Cups of Tea? Greg Mortenson seemed also to connect to Muslim faith. Not about Jordan, the book is wonderful nonetheless. Anyhow, thanks for this wonderful post. Love seeing through your eyes, and hearing about your visits.

    Jim
    chasing 75 degrees

    Like

    • Thanks Janine! I loved every second of my Jordan journey, even the hike 😉

      I felt at home rather than like a tourist. I can’t wait to return.

      You are blessed to work for such a fantastic tourism board.

      🙂

      Like

  13. Don’t know if you have ever wandered the Southwest, Leslie, but your photos of Wadi Rum remind me of traveling through Arizona and Utah. I really enjoyed this blog… one of your best. Curt

    Like

  14. Pingback: Wadi Rum - Jordan | Intact Nature

  15. Pingback: 2013 Bucket List | Bucket List Publications

  16. Hi Lesley!
    I may be traveling soon so all your adventures to other countries & places in those countries are really helpful. I have been working on my own list of subscribers on my blog & am finally getting
    somewhere a little at a time. Love can be a real thing for people to enjoy as they live their lives together experiencing other cultures & praising God for his love & taking care of us in our ventures everywhere. Thanks for visiting my blog & taking the time to see my posts there. have a great day & will see you soon!
    Rodney
    lynnsblogs

    Like

  17. I have not been to Jordan but I have worked for a man who came from East Jordan, Sadly he passed away, I still keep in contact with his wife and son and I have his sister as a friend Facebook who is Beirut. What was some of the food you ate, Did you try the Falafel, or Shawarma, how about Tabula, or Fatoush.

    Like

  18. Hi there, Lesley! For a brief moment, I thought I was looking at Arches Nat’l Park in Utah (but not for long). Still love reading your blogs and watching your travels. Only 5 mores places in your 2013 bucket list? Amazing! Thanks for liking my “At Rest” post awhile back. Am playing catch-up again. Happy trails!

    Like

  19. Wow! This is so inspiring! I’ve always dreamt of spending a couple of months in Jordan, for the purpose of learning Classical Arabic, and to connect with Jordanian culture – one that is very unlike the cultural norms here in Australia. Your entire blog is one big platform of inspiration 🙂

    P.S thanks for liking my post 😀 it was very excited being new to the whole blogging scene, hehe.

    Like

  20. Pingback: Accepting Defeat or Recognizing Greatness | Bucket List Publications

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s