A Travellerspoint blog

Birthday in the desert

The big four-o

So I turned 40 on May 9th.

Funny thing; Mehdi, one of the drivers here, has been saying that he's 19. However, the other day, I got my mitts on his ID and it turns out that he had had a birthday two weeks prior and didn't realize it. SO....Birthdays here, not so much.

The other volunteer girls asked if maybe I wanted to hit Aqaba for the day and go for a Turkish bath. Aquaba is a resort city about an hour and a half away on the Red Sea. While real bathing is alluring (we have a cold shower up at camp), I just decided I'd prefer to stay in the desert.

SO, In the morning a couple of trekker girls who were staying with us came into our tent with a gift for me. They had taped two cans of tuna together with medical tape (they're med students studying in Israel) and wrapped a bow around made out of a plastic bag (the Jordanian national bird). The card was written on an old receipt. Then they proceded to apologise for not having a better gift for me.

Following this I went on a tour with Faris and the coolest tourists ever. They were from Canada but the guy has been living in Dubai for the past five years. He works as a managment consultant. Apparently Dubai has an insane demand for management and quality professionals...hmmmmm. Anyhow, they just loved it here and were delighted with everything. For my birthday, they got some shots of me at some of the sites for emailing later. I have almost no photos of myself in the desert. I climb up these cool rock formations but don't have the photos to prove it. Maybe I'm not even here. They're also mailing a printed version of the photos to Faris since he doesn't have computer access and we have no printer.

THEN it turned out that Mohammed organized a cake delivery from Aqaba with one of the cab drivers who bring tourists here. So later, we cleaned up our tent and invited the rest of the staff in for a birthday party.

I'm already a week out past my departure date. I love it here.

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Posted by jenofear 03:01 Archived in Jordan Comments (0)

Bad Blog Entry

It's a logistics thing

First I'd like to apologise for the woeful state of my photo editing. The photos barely show up on the computer screen so I can't tell whether they're any good and sometimes I can't even tell what they're of.

Second, it's difficult to blog here. The computer is in the office and if I'm here I often get called to prepare tea or check bookings. Also, the kids get out of school at 11:30 so sometimes they're running around (with knives and matches).

AND, apparently we have a spy so I'm disinclined to write about all the most interesting things which, like anywhere else, are the interpersonal relationships. Let's just say this is a compelling cultural study. Of course it's purely anecdotal but educational nonetheless. I gotta say this one thing: The repression of women we see here when looking from the West is actually not what it seems. And to the extent that it is there, it is held in place at least as much by the women as by the men. Remember....anecdotal. Just my observation.

Posted by jenofear 00:51 Archived in Jordan Comments (0)

WWOOFing in Wadi Rum

Logistics

So, here's the setup where I'm living at the moment. The family I'm living with lives in Rum Village, at the edge of Wadi Rum desert. Attached to the house is the tour office. Behind the house is the hostel, used mainly by rock climbers and us work exchange people. Then, 12km out in the desert, there is the bedouin camp.

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So, tourists will book someting like a jeep tour and then a night camping in the bedouin tents out there. Maybe a camel ride back - yep, I did it. 12 km and blisters in interesting places.

The cast:
The family - Mohammed, his wife, and nine children. Whew! We spend some time speaking english with the kids.

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The work exchange peeps - there are currently four of us. One, Sarah, has been gone since the day after I arrived, so I haven't gotten to know her. The other two, Stephanie & Bailey (Stephanie's 15 y/o daughter), are perfect. They're from the east coast, USA. They're totally sharp and laid back. Like me : ) They've already been here for two months and will be staying another two.

The employees - The camp employs four drivers for jeep & camel tours and a cook up at camp. I don't know if it's a Bedouin thing or just luck, but these guys are eminently respectful and good natured. This is the first place I've been able to let my hair down (Ha!).

So, us work exchange girls can basically choose each day how we want to contribute. There's hostel cleaning, tour guiding, email responding, and camp cleanup. Also, there is always customer support up at camp. We're expected to get 2-4 hours in each day. So, today I did email. Yesterday I did tour-guiding. The tour guiding is really fun but, at the same time, I think it's actually the most valuable work because the drivers don't really speak english. Also, just being up there at camp to answer questions is really useful.

Then at the end of the day, we and the drivers generally stay at camp with the tourists. The cook there is EXCELLENT! Also, after dinner, we party (which, here, means dance to Middle Eastern music and drink a lot of over-sweetened tea). Good times.

Posted by jenofear 03:19 Archived in Jordan Comments (3)

And now, the update

This place is crazy!

Currently I'm in Wadi Musa (this is where Petra is - but I'll be visiting that later), waiting to catch a bus to Wadi Rum in the morning.

On the bus here, there was a fight over whether the hatch on the bus ceiling should be opened or closed. One guy opened it. Another guy closed it. The one guy re-opened it. Suddenly a third of the bus is standing and shouting and the guys are trying to go at it. One guy is swinging a cane. Now, we've all seen this sort of thing in the states...when alcohol is involved. But here, no alcohol.

Another crazy scene...we were driving up to 'little Petra', a rock rift that was developed prior to Petra before their population expanded. We did a sunset visit, which was just amazing. On the way through town, a mini-stampede of horses came galloping down the main street. It was nuts. We almost got hit by a horse! Ya know how they say 'the deer hit me'. Well, yep. Sure enough. They kept going further down the street at full gallop and one collided with a man on a donkey - he went down, we gasped, and our driver just said 'oh yeah, no big deal, this happens often'. Sure enough the guy and donkey popped back up like a Weeble.

Tomorrow I go to Wadi Rum for a month to hang out here:
http://www.mohammedwadirum.8m.com/

Posted by jenofear 11:03 Archived in Jordan Comments (1)

A digression

the pet peeve

So...I'm a pretty good traveller. I always let go of expectation that things should be any particular way, or how they compare to home. Mostly. I think this is necessary in order to really see what's in front of you in a new place.

So, this means that I can read a book while travelling sans seatbelt in a taxi driving 60mph and passing others on blind curves on cliff side roads, wait in lines where the man behind me is standing so close he should be wearing a condom, eat fish served with the head still on, drink tea out of a glass that's been used by the last 60 travellers, use toilets that you have to wade to get to...

BUT. There is one thing that I just can't let go of. Something that just always CREEPS ME OUT.

Scented laundry detergent.

Yeah.

At home I always use the hippie fragrance-free, dye-free stuff. But on the road, it's impossible to come by. So, I get my laundry done and it comes back smelling like grandma's perfume. And it's overwhelming. Maybe foreign washers don't have a rinse cycle. Anyway, I can tolerate it on the trousers. But on the shirts it makes me queasy. And [TMI Alert], on underwear, it's just nasty. I can't do it. I can't be having all of that chemical all up in my business. So, I am now in the process of hand rinsing all my stuff. I do a little at a time based on the limited hanging-up options. In a couple of days I'll be done (insh'Allah).

Posted by jenofear 10:38 Archived in Jordan Comments (1)

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