Yes, in the below picture I am sitting with two Bedouins in Wadi Araba holding a gazelle's head. How I got into this situation is a rather long story, however.
Yesterday, two friends and I decided to take a trip out into the Jordanian desert––in the car pictured below:
After visiting Mt. Nebo, the place where––according to tradition––Moses looked out on the promised land he would not be permitted to enter, we drove down to the dead sea, something I had always wanted to see. Since we were planning on camping out in the desert that night, and it is almost mandatory that you take a shower afterwards, we decided not to go swimming. So that will have to be for another trip. After that we headed south along the sea and made the 200-some kilometer journey to Aqaba. Along the way we made two stops; several to pick of hitchhikers, and one to run out and frolic in the sand... and discover that our Honda Compact was not the greatest off-road vehicle:
Another was to walk with wild camels:
When we finally reached Aqaba, I had the strange sensation that I had seen the place before... and then I realized that I had––in Lawrence of Arabia. We then went down to the beach and rented a paddle-boat. The Gulf of Aqaba isn't exactly the kind of place I ever pictured myself using a paddle-boat, but it was fun in a hilarious kind of way. It was also a cool experience because from the Gulf of Aqaba it's possible to see four countries at the same time: Jordan to the North-East, Israel to the North-West, Saudi Arabia to the South-East, and Egypt to the South-West.
By the time we finished it was getting dark and we headed back out into the desert. After traveling into Wadi Araba we left the highway and drove along dirt (or sand, rather) roads until we found an abandoned hut-kind-of building with no roof and a walled in courtyard in back. The stars were just coming out when the first Bedouins came.
They spoke with Brett for about fifteen minutes and kept repeating that it was very strange for us to be there and that they had never seen anything like it before. They finally left and we went back to taking care of the fire. Just a few minutes later though, another one showed up, talking on his cell phone. He was followed by two more, and they were all adamant that it was not safe for us to stay there, telling us we would probably get shot or robbed or something along those lines. So it was evident that at this point the entire valley knew we were there––and wasn't particularly pleased about it. The also added that if any of these things happened it would reflect badly on them, since it was their territory. Thus, they insisted that it was their duty to take us to their home. We in turn insisted that we would leave and return to Aqaba and camp on the beach instead. They however, would not hear of this, and twenty minutes later we were following their white Toyota pickup back to their house.
So I spent the evening drinking large amounts of tea, sitting on cushions, and listening to Brett converse with them in Arabic for several hours. It was a surreal experience, and I'm tempted to write another post just about it.
Petra is something I had dreamed of seeing since I was nine or ten, and so coming to Jordan it was the main thing I was looking forward to seeing. In the end though, and even though it exceeded my expectations thoroughly, it seemed more like icing on the cake.
Late that afternoon, I parted ways with Brett and Jonny and took the bus back to Amman. I had some work to do there, and also wanted to spend some time catching up with my friends. I was still a little sad to see the previous two days come to an end, as they were definitely some of the craziest and best ever.