On Thursday, September 30, 2010, I found myself eager and excited while also anxiously packing what was left of the essentials for my weekend excursion to Wadi Rum, Aqaba, and Petra.
That morning my roommate and I secured our backpacks and satchels, grabbed a few quick bites of something I can’t recall at the moment, waved goodbye to the in house maid whose smile makes the sun jealous, and slid through the front door of comfort and air conditioning to embark on a truly out of this world journey in the desert!
Any other Thursday morning we all would have been in class or preparing for classes later that day but lucky for us all CIEE classes were canceled especially for the trip! We all found ourselves outside the main gate of the university awaiting the travel buses that would prove uncomfortable and scary at every curve (especially curves on cliffs) for the next 4 hours.
Nevertheless you could see the excitement in everyone’s face.
Once we reached our first destination, Wadi Rum, we wasted no time at all. We were all fed a quick lunch and then walked past the visitor complex to a corral of waiting camels and their trainers!
I am proud to say that my camel was the best camel. I renamed her ‘WHYSdom’ because the guide on my bus pointed out the 7 Pillars of ‘WHYSdom’. I know he meant wisdom but his thick accent prohibited the correct pronunciation. Therefore the pillars will now always be referred to as ‘WHYSdom’ in my mind. Anyway long story short my camel was great and my favorite word that day was ‘YELA YELA’. I kept yelling that phrase because I wanted to go fast. I was eager to see how fast a camel could go! Ha ha! Unfortunately my thighs are now paying for my curiosity.
While on camel back, for 3 hours by the way, we made pit stops at sites with breathtaking views.
The mountains are colossal and when you stare off into the distance you feel like if you were to walk to the edge you would fall off. So, I can see why way back when many believed the Earth to be flat. =)
Our last stop after watching the sun set was our camp ground for the night. We were staying at a bedouin camp! (I definitely didn’t know what bedouin was before this trip by the way).
Everything was perfect. We learned traditional dances, ate good food, talked to the people who are blessed to wake up every day under such a clear sky.
You know that night was the first night I witnessed multiple shooting stars! I could even see the Milky Way and countless other constellations I remember learning about in middle and high school science classes. Under the Wadi Rum Sky it felt like everything else had ceased. Nothing else mattered. It was just you and the stars…and the camels of course.
The next day we all packed up and headed to Aqaba to swim in the Red Sea and right after that excursion we headed to another bedouin camp ground; this one close to Petra.
Then the best and worst happened…
I awoke from my sleep under the stars and prepared for a hike through Petra! Now, I’m not a hiker typically but when in Rome right. So, I did it. I loved every moment of it because I was able to touch and feel and see and smell sights that I have only ever googled or seen on wikipedia.
I know I’m rambling but I just want to share on last memory that will remain etched into my mind until the end of forever literally.
So, somehow my friends Stephanie and Keith and I stumbled across what we called “The stairway to Heaven”. There were steps that seemed to lead to the clouds literally so what did we do? We strayed away from the group and climbed them of course!
Keith being in top physical condition breezed through most of the climb and left us in his dust. Stephanie and I climbed as if each step was a hurdle itself.
We were told that the ancient staircase led to the sacrificial high place where the Nabeteen people sacrificed daily. This was a must see.
After feeling like we were both close to death and out of water we reached a point a little past half and found ourselves in the company of a old bedouin woman making tea! Yes TEA!
She took one look at us and knew that we needed to rest so she offered us shelter for a brief moment to catch our breath. She later explained that she made the strenuous trip up and down everyday! EVERYDAY! Stephanie and I looked at each other and knew that if she could do it then surely we could too! The woman gave us hope and a good laugh and in no time we were atop the sacrificial high place overlooking all of Petra. Not many from our group dared the trek so that was a memory that I will cherish always.
Lastly, I want to end this blog post with this statement.
Although my body does hurt and ache from the weekend I would have done it 10x over because no amount of pain could wash away the feeling and sensation of being in a place so rich with history that many do not get the chance to see.
I thank the CIEE program for organizing such a weekend trip and look forward to more exploration independently.
P.S.: I entitled this blog ‘Moshkila’ which is trouble maker because one of the bedouin men called me moshkila the entire time. It was quite hilarious actually. He was a peculiar man but you could tell he had a good heart and an even better sense of humor.