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Glamping through the Desert

The Wadi Rum camp where we stayed certainly appeared to be grand glamping, that is glamorous camping, which is a thing now. However... when we arrived we were told that we were to be driven from the bus drop offs point to our tents ― and to take out a change of clothing because we had to leave our suitcases in the bus. This was a sign that we were not exactly glamping. Now I’ve been with groups who would’ve heard that little bit of news and staged an insurrection right there by the headlights of the pickup trucks that were to take us to our site. But our band of travelers shrugged ― and opened their suitcases. We clambered onto benches in the open pick up trucks and journeyed 10 minutes in pitch darkness.

We arrived at a surreal landscape: surrounded by towering cliffs and mountains made of sandstone and granite, all lit up like another planet, another world. Not surprisingly, Wadi Rum was the location for otherworldly films, including Prometheus, The Martian, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Lawrence of Arabia. By the way, Wadi Rum IS the exact location from which TE Lawrence trained an Arab army to attack and destroy the Ottoman army in Aqaba.

The tents of our campsite were not exactly glamorous. They did have an Attached, indoor bathroom, so I suppose that was their official nod to luxury. The tents were not heated, which made for a night of some bone chilling and counting down till sunrise. But I must say, everyone had a fabulous time, and no one complained.

The next day was all about bouncing around in the back of pick up trucks, looking at the strange rock formations and eerie landscapes, camel rides, and more desert appreciation. And here a word of appreciation for our Jordanian guide, Eyyad ― otherwise known as Eddie. Eyyad spoke impeccable English and treated us well. He was kind and very thoughtful: and patient. He referred to the land to the west as Palestine, and mentioned Israel by name only when we were heading to the border. Not surprisingly, Eyyad never spoke about the hostilities between Israel and Jordan. The various wars and indignities of losing land and prestige and lives still cast big shadows. Peace is not some romantic Hallmark movie. It is about a slow drift toward forgiveness and understanding. It’s not about obliterating the past. It’s acknowledging, when the smoke clears, that reconciliation is better than holding the grudge. I hope the day comes when I will feel comfortable asking Eyyad where his father was during the 6 day War and his grandfather during the War of Independence.

From there we journeyed on to the border. And as hip and modern Jordan wants to be and as hip and cool Israel has already become, the border crossing feels like a rinky-dink 3rd world backwater from either end. They have spared all expenses to make it hospitable.

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