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Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum

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This was the last leg of our trip, a ride through the arid expanse of desert land. Wild camels chewed on occasional tufts of vegetation. Sand and rock formations blanketed the landscape. I have since learned that Wadi Rum is also known as the Valley of the Moon because of its appearance. It does resemble what most of us would expect the surface of the moon (or even Mars) to look like, with its red sandy terrain that stretches to the horizon. This place has provided the backdrop for movies like The Martian, The Last Days on Mars, Red Planet, and Dune. But it was the filming of Lawrence of Arabia that gave it its movie debut. It is also thought to be the place Moses passed through after crossing the Red Sea.

The land was flatter than anything we had seen to that point. The rock formations, streaked with color, rose hauntingly from the sand. I could see for miles. I wondered where the people got water out here.

You would think carving out a life here would be nearly impossible. But the Bedouin people call this part of Jordan home, and we were welcomed into the large tent in a Bedouin camp. They cooked our dinner in the ground and treated us to live entertainment played on an oud. As we sat in the tent, a woman, covered from head to toe in a black hijab, came in, kneaded bread, and cooked it on an upside-down pan resting over an open flame. She had nothing but a slit to look through as she knelt on the ground before the fire. She never spoke and never made eye contact with us. We were instructed to break off pieces of the freshly made bread and dip it in spices. It tasted so good. That and the Bedouin tea they set before us was the appetizer for a memorable meal.

The next morning, before the sun rose, some of us mounted camels and rode through the desert. I had never ridden a camel before. The ride is rockiest when the animal gets to its feet. As your body is thrust to a steep incline, you have to hold on. From then on, the ride was a slow sway on lanky, long legs. I was high enough to banish any thought of jumping down from my mind. We were taken to a spot where we could climb up on the side of a rocky mountain to watch as the sun peaked over the hills. It was an incredible view.

We were reunited with the other cyclists at camp, where we pilled into 4 x 4s and toured the desert. I saw Bedouins driving through the desert in a truck. I found it amazing. My belief that people can adjust to anything, even harsh conditions like this, was reinforced.

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