Lesson #138: Families in Wadi Rum

Bedouin moving camels in Wadi Rum*

We decided to head down to Wadi Rum and camp out in a bedouin camp overnight. We met some fellow travelers (a Dutch guy, his French girlfriend and a South African guy) at the hotel in Petra who were going our same direction, so we decided to give them a lift, which made that bit of drive even more fun. It’s always nice to have a bit of variety…and a break from the people you’ve been traveling with for a week.

Wadi Rum is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It’s this gorgeous former river valley cum desert of unique rocks and red sand. I climbed one rock bridge in my bare feet at the insistence of our Bedouin guide!

Unfortunately, though it was sunny in the morning, it got cloudy in the afternoon and just after dark, the thunderstorms rolled in. Personally, I love thunderstorms in the desert, but my campmates were less enthusiastic. However, the storms meant that we missed seeing the fire sand of the sunset. Next time…it’s definitely a place I would go back to.

Anyway…the whole point of this post is how much we learned about the modern Bedouin culture from our hosts. Now, they don’t speak much English, so our whole conversation with them was run through my friend in Amman who is fluent in Arabic. They loved her! They taught us about slow cooking meat in a pit covered in a blanket and sand and told us about what it’s like to grow up in the Wadi** and mostly about their family lives.

The guy who was serving us our dinner said that he’d been out at the camp all day and hadn’t seen his family and that he was very lonely without them. We, all of us being westerners who are a. much more embracing, as a culture, of the familial diaspora and more importantly b. all individuals who seek out new experiences and don’t live all that close to our families,*** were shocked by that. Twelve hours without his family and he was missing them so much that he had to put a phone call in to them after dinner. But we also understood how different a culture we were raised in. His family have been driving camels across the desert for thousands of years, so he hasn’t had the luxury of turning up in the desert and making new friends with whoever just randomly happens to be there. His friends are his family in the literal sense. I get lonely without my friends.

*Please don’t steal my picture. By which I mean, the picture is mine and you have no rights to it, so keep your mitts off it!

**I could live without the internet access (I think) but not having access to a library would kill me. But then again, if I’d grown up in a culture where the focus is less on learning and more on survival, I imagine my impressions would be different.

***The Dutch guy, French girl and the South African we picked up in Petra live in Israel, my friend lives in Amman, I live in Europe somewhere for the time being and even when I didn’t, was still living 1500 miles from my family. Even the Devastatingly Gorgeous Dutch Guy and his girlfriend, who were born and raised out on the border with Germany, live in Amsterdam now.

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