"there is no sahil."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I was a little surprised to see the link to my blog in the Smith JYA mass email (I think a friend back at the Office for International Study forwarded it onto the newsletter), but what the heck! Maybe this will start a trend…I would love to hear about what people are up to over in Europe, Israel, India, New Zealand…

Written 10/16
You should never take your paper copy of the Sunday New York Times (complete with magazine) for granted. I am missing it big-time.

Today and yesterday I think marked the beginning of fall here, as I ventured out of the house with both a t-shirt and long sleeved shirt on and was actually comfortable in the chilly wind. Yesterday was the first rain I have seen since I’ve been here, and our Arabic teacher was pretty excited that “winter is here, finally!” The scary thing was how many accidents there were since the rain made the dirty, oily roads a slippery mess.

This past weekend though, was as sunny and summery as ever in the south of Jordan. The trip was amazing and this is going to be a little more photo-heavy than usual. It was nice to have everything organized for us (the entire CIEE group of 33 students went on a big tour bus, complete with guide, three meals a day, and of course itinerary and accommodation) but I am definitely looking forward to EID WEEK, almost a full week off from school to do our own thing. I think that a friend and will head down to Aqaba and be beach bums for a few days. We’re planning on camping for the first couple of nights, and then we might have to splurge on the third night and get a room at the Intercontinental Hotel.

The highlights of the trip were sleeping out under the stars in the desert on two perfectly clear nights. We stayed at a camp (in picture) but dragged out blankets and slept outside. TE Lawrence called the desert of Wadi Rum vast, echoing and Godlike, and he was spot on. It was unbelievably majestic, and even being there with a big group it was easy to get away and take in the deafening silence and beauty. We went off-roading in 4WD jeeps which was way too much fun, stopping to climb up huge sand dunes and roll down. I still have red sand coming out of clothes and bags here and there.

The thing that makes Petra and Wadi Rum so awe-inspiring and unexpected is the rest of the country. Driving through most of Jordan is less than scenic; there are some tiny towns, but for the most part Jordan is dry wasteland. There are poultry farms in warehouses and Bedouin tents here and there, but it is not much to see. To be driving along and see these sandstone mountains and pure, clean sand is stunning to say the least. The rock formation of the mountains around Petra and Wadi Rum are a natural wonder, and reminded me of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and the mountains of Greece in Meteora.

Petra was just awesome and much bigger than I had expected. I can see why the winter is the preferred time to visit; there is a ton of walking involved and we were definitely sweating in mid-October. I would like to go back and spend another day. The Nabateans had quite the set-up over there, and it’s too bad that none of them are still around to solve the water problems Jordan has today. Throughout the city there is a water system of gutters carved into the sides of the canyon that is just amazing. The terrible thing about Petra is that there are so many horses, donkeys and camels used to tote people around the place that there is poop everywhere, and since it never rains, it smells pretty awful. Apparently the level of ammonia is so high that there are fears among archeologists that it will erode the canyon and stone monuments. Yuck.
On the subject of camels, we rode them on our last day. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I am happy to have done (once). Camels are fascinating animals from afar, but they stink. They’re also uncomfortable. I could not imagine trekking for days on one.

On an unrelated note, I was reading the Jordan Times (one of two English language newspapers) last week when I came across this blurb of an article: “Skier wins wife carrying contest (Newry, Maine)--John Farra, a former Winter Olympian from Caribou who trained by running up a ski slope with 80 pounds of mortar mix, won the seventh annual North American Wife Carrying Championship on Saturday at Sunday River….Several hundred spectators turned out for the competition during the height of western Maine’s fall foliage season.” Pretty funny that Maine makes the news even in Jordan. What a peculiar state.


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