Saturday, March 30, 2013

4x4s in the desert and Riding the waves in Aqaba

Camping in the desert at Wadi Rum proved to be more comfortable than I had originally envisioned thanks to the fact our tents came equipped with beds and several warm blankets and a pillow. I fell asleep pretty quickly after the music ended around 11:30 pm and slept well until about 3 am when what I think were coyotes started howling, followed by a chorus of barking from dogs in the area. Thankfully my ear plugs were within close reach and I was able to fall back asleep. I had intended to take a shower when I woke up as I was feeling pretty dirty from the sand and sweat from hiking and dancing the previous night, but it proved to be too chilly to attempt it given the showers were across camp and were not within a heated building. Not able to do much else with my gross hair, I pulled it up into a pony tail and hoped that we would arrive at the hotel in Aqaba early enough for me to take a shower before our planned activities there.

After breakfast, the group loaded into the back of several 4x4 trucks which had benches bolted in them and headed out to the desert for some sight seeing and fun. We saw some neat archaeological findings left by ancient Bedouins as a map of the surrounding area for travelers passing through the area. We saw desert plants used to make soap and a root that women could use for lip color. We climbed a big sand dune and slid down, and then we enjoyed a short joyride back to camp.

Shortly after returning, we boarded the bus for Jordan's southern most city, Aqaba. Once there we checked into the hotel and then left for an afternoon of boating, swimming, snorkeling, and lunch on the Red Sea. It was a relaxing afternoon filled with much fun. I didn't go swimming but enjoyed relaxing on the boat in the beautiful weather and taking in the wondrous sites around us. I was particularly struck by how expansive the Red Sea is and marveled over the miracle God performed in parting the Sea for the Israelites to escape the Egyptians. I don't know the exact point of crossing or how the sea levels may have changed since then, but it was still mind boggling to think about it.

After docking, we returned to the hotel. Although we had planned to go by bus, we ended up making the mile walk back to the hotel by foot. The bus got stuck on one of the roads leading back to the main street because of cars that were double parked on both sides of the street making the road to narrow to pass. Dr. Al-Ajlouni, the principle person at JUST with whom we have been working called the police and flexed his muscle as Dean at JUST to eventually resolve the situation. I understand that it resulted in many cars being ticketed and towed away....

After everyone had a chance to change, we headed out for a delicious dinner of grilled fish outside in the courtyard of a group of restaurants. It was an enjoyable time, but made for a late night. I understand that it is customary for Jordanians to eat pretty late at night, like Spaniards, but I have to admit having dinner so late has been difficult for me. Despite the late dinner, I went shopping with others from my group to some of the surrounding shops in search of souvenirs to bring back. Although it was almost midnight, all the shops were bustling and showed no signs of closing. I wasn't all that successful unfortunately, but look forward to some additional shopping in Amman.

Our trip is now winding down. As much fun as this trip has been, it will be good to be home. I think the others are starting to share a similar sentiment after being together now for 9 days. Given our very full schedules, that is understandable. I know however that we will all share wonderful memories of our time in Jordan.

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