Bedouins dancing and singing in front of their large black tent in the middle of the desert … That’s the image I had of Jordan. I was dying to meet Bedouins. Do they still exist? Who are they?
So here I was in Wadi Rum, the highlight of any tourist trip in Jordan. Mehedi, my Bedouin guide, welcomed us and introduced me, Jody, the Australian, and Sarah and Dave, the English couple to our camels. For 8 hours, we walk through the desert and discovered a canyon, a tiny oasis and one of Lawerance of Arabia’s rallying points. Despite the many tourists, the desert still seemed very big and quiet. Inbetween those stops, we tried in vain to drive our camels in the right direction. They’re cute, but oh so unreliable. They never listen to anyone! If they decide to go left, they’re no way you’re going to make them change their minds. Khalas (Enough)! The best part was when three camels fled during one of our breaks. It took our guide 45 minutes to bring them back, and my t-shirt was declared casualty (try find a white tshirt in the middle of the desert…).
All in all, we spent 6 hours on our camels, listening to the vastness of the desert, and suffering in silence (camel is not a confortable means of transportation). When we arrived in our camp, we learned our lesson: Bedouin life is not easy.
We arrive at dusk in our camp for tourists, nestled between the rocks. The main tent was heated by a fire, tea awaited us. What a pleasure after such a long day. Mehedi and others started talking.
They all live in Wadi Village, the village that the government has created for them. For Wadi Rum Bedouins, like many other bedouins who moved to a village, this move was welcomed with enthusiasm. Bedouin life in the nature is hard and the water is rare. The king offers a large program for those Bedouins: they benefits from a tax exemption, pay no water, and often dispose of their own clinic and school. And they have electricity and the Internet! Raed, who I will talk about tomorrow, is spending his evenings on his computer: checking his emails and facebook, and downloading music!
After a good dinner, and way too much tea, Mehedi and some other Bedouins returned to their pickup back to the village and we went with one of their friends for a walk at night. “You don’t need a flashlight” he told us (a bit judgemental). We walked in the dark, until he sat down and lit a fire. He began to sing and one thing leading to another, he showed me dancing traditional weddings.
It’s time to go to bed. We put our mats on the sand and felt asleep under the stars.
What happened next: Day 2, hanging with Raed’s family
PS I’m complaining, but it was an incredible day and I highly recommend such an experience! I used Bedouin Directions for the camel trek and the accomodation. They are awesome. The beds are not so good, there is no hot water, but it is precisely the charm.