Friday, June 21, 2019

Day 7: Riding Camels Through the Jordanian Desert

March 7: We woke up, ate breakfast, packed and hit the trail. Same story, different day.

Today's hike was a longer one stretching 22 kilometers (about 14 miles), but it was once again mostly flat and the biggest obstacle was the never-ending sand with its lack of a solid walking surface.

A hot air balloon over Wadi Rum is a popular tourist thing to do. We obviously didn't have time for this sort of thing, but this was the first morning we saw it happening!

We left Wadi Rum for a more traditional desert--a flat, featureless expanse. It seemed like everyone was complaining that the scenery was boring, and I suppose compared to the colors and sandstone sculptures we had been walking through for days, it was--but there was a beauty in the starkness here as well. Deserts are an amazing place, and I still found myself fascinated with the wildlife and plants that didn't just grow in the area but thrived! It wasn't even the hot season right now but the sun could still kill an unprepared person wandering these deserts.

We stopped for a break near some old ruins next to a the major north-south highway. It was, in fact, the same highway our bus used to drive us down to Aqaba seven days earlier in the pouring rain. The terrain certainly looked a lot different under a sunny, blue sky!

Crossing the highway was like playing a live-action version of Frogger where groups of us waited for a small break in the traffic to dash across one direction of traffic into the safety of the center divider then waiting for another break in the traffic to dash across the other direction of traffic.

Waiting our turn to dash across the highway!

Along the way, I continued picking up trash and after one of our breaks, a few of the other hikers started asking if I would take their trash. Not trash they found in the desert, but their own personal trash they generated. No! They can carry their own trash back to camp. If I volunteered to carry everyone's trash, I wouldn't have space to actually pick up trash from the ground! So no, everyone was to carry their own trash.

Late in the afternoon we took another break at the ruins of Humeima, an ancient trading post that was built nearly 2000 years ago. Karolina asked if she could ride our camel and that's how she got out of hiking the last half hour or so of the trail into camp.

I took pictures of her on the camel, but when the group took off, I backtracked a bit to get my pack as well as retrieve Karolina's which is how I ended up hiking the last half hour of the trail with two backpacks. I think she got the better end of that deal. *nodding* =)

Unfortunately for her, I was never able to catch up and get photos or videos of her riding a camel. I took a couple of photos when she first got on, but after I left to retrieve our packs I wasn't able to catch up again. I think I might have managed to catch up if I had another half hour. I could see her in the distance, though. Since it was the only camel ahead, it was easy to follow her progress visually.

Karolina rides a camel!

Later she told me that as the camel started getting close to camp, it knew it was getting close to camp and becoming agitated almost bucking her off, so she got off and walked the last few minutes into camp.

The wind was quite strong when we arrived and the support crew had put people's luggage into random tents to help hold them down so there was a little confusion with people looking for their luggage and moving it to the tent they had selected as well as confusion over which tents were actually taken and which ones just had bags in them to hold them down but hadn't yet been claimed. Eventually it all got sorted out, though.

Karolina's tent was next a ravine and a strong wind caught in the rainfly of her tent and started pulling it into the ravine. I helped her pull it back off the edge--a real tent wrangler!--and suggested we take off the rainfly. It wasn't supposed to rain so it wasn't really needed anyhow and the wind hitting the mesh top would cause less wind resistance. So we took off the rainfly.

Later in the evening, it was announced that Lina, one of the local Jordanians hiking with us and the former Minister of Tourism, would be the new ambassador for Japan. We were hiking with an ambassador now! It wouldn't become official until later. (I saw her post to Facebook that she was officially sworn in on May 29th, about two and a half months later.)

One of the other hikers--I think it might have been Ernie but I could be wrong!--asked jokingly if we should call her Her Highness or something, and--she's funny--immediately replied that she preferred "Your Excellency," so I started jokingly referring to her as Your Excellency after that.

Turns out, it's a lot of fun hiking with the future ambassador of Jordan to Japan. I asked, hypothetically, if I were in Japan and ran into trouble.... would I get better help from the US embassy or should I maybe check out the Jordanian embassy instead? Could she pull some strings for me? =)

Anyhow.... Shortly after dinner, most of us headed off to sleep resting up for another day of hiking tomorrow. Tomorrow would be our longest day of hiking yet--we'd need our rest!

Puk walked to the edge of camp in the morning... it was the only place where people could get a cell phone signal!
The morning's hike took us past arch #1 which we had checked out on our own yesterday afternoon.
In the morning, we saw some of the last of the beautiful sandstone monoliths that Wadi Rum is known for. They would quickly fade off in the distance behind us. =(
During breaks, we huddled under what little shade we could find.

Taking another quick rest break!

Even in the flat, featureless landscape, I still found the colors in the rocks and sparse life that lived out here very interesting.
His name is Shukran. Which means "Thank you" in Arabic. might ask?
Watch the video to find out how this beetle got its name. ;o)

The mountains ahead look promising!

Ruins of Humeima

This was Karolina's view from the top of the camel.

These flags always marked the entrance of our campsites. And you can tell it's quite windy with how they're blowing!

Sunset over camp!


GG said...

Did I miss it?
The barbed wire separates what from what?

foxfriend said...

Same question as GG; what's with the barbed wire?

Ryan said...

It's some sort of property boundary. I don't know any details about it, though.