Saturday, October 13, 2018

Spin the Wheel

One of the reasons the blog has been suffering as of late, like a neglected child left in a basket on the steps of the firehouse, besides the fact that Elise and I have been crazy, ridiculously, beyond busy, is because we are deep, deep in the throes of bidding on our next posting. 

Like it or not, we have to leave Jordan this summer. The job I am in now is only two years. No option to extend. They left out that part when I signed up for the job. In fact, they’ve recently hired my replacement, so we really must go. 

Elise has been training like mad for her first triathlon in two short weeks from now. She is ready. Even if she doesn’t think she is. She will toe the starting line on the edge of the Red Sea just a few days before we may hear where we will move to this summer. 

For some reason — I’m not exactly sure why — this bid season has been particularly gut-wrenching and especially stressful. The list was very good, and we could easily imagine ourselves on any one of the four corners of the globe. We started researching and reaching out earlier than last time; that, in part, has made this time around very long. We’re just ready for it to be over. 

We talked over all the possibilities with the kids. They have been more involved (and curious) than ever. They’re no longer tiny babies in bucket seats we sling over our shoulder and head out. Nor are they quite the petulant teenagers we have heard about, filing ardent protests of having to move and leave friends, boyfriends, and girlfriends. They are excited by the move. Like Elise and I, they are thriving in this lifestyle. 

We submit our final list this Friday and may hear something by the end of October. The last two times Elise and I have bid, we reached the end and still didn’t know where we were going. I am hopeful that is not the case this time around. 

Or, as they say in Arabic, inshallah. 

Wadi Rum, Part Two

We left the house for the four hour drive south at 8:30, in time to coincide our arrivals with our friends from Jerusalem who were driving up from an overnight in Petra.

The King’s Highway connecting Amman to Aqaba on the Red Sea was completely turn up and made driving like a spectacle out of Grand Theft Auto, 18 wheeler’s hurtling down the wrong side of the highway, random barriers, shoulders, not to mention pedestrians popping up out of the middle of nowhere. The drive was long than we had intended and we arrived after our friends. But after proceeding through the visitors center and paying our 1.5 JD (the residents’ going rate) per person, we drove a few more km to the parking lot in Wadi Village where we were met by our Jeep which would 4x4 us out to the camp.

The Jeep was actually a tricked out Toyota FourRunner. It was the only vehicle in the entire village, giving the rundown landscape a disorienting “Children of the Corn” feel, as though every vehicle was a clone of the other.  But given the terrain, the mode of transportation made sense. It was either FourRunner or camel. You decide. 

We were met by a striking man in a long white robe. I’m sure the gown has a traditional name but I don’t know what it is. It was surprisingly immaculate given that everything else in Wadi Tum was covered in several centimeters of red dust. He had the eyes of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in “Pirates or the Caribbean”, piercing and ringed in black as though circled in mascara though he wore no makeup. 

He loaded our luggage into the front seat of the Toyota as we loaded into the back l, squeezing onto two bench seats on either side of the flatbed truck. We then bounced over the last few meters of rough asphalt that was Wadi Village. The road ended and the desert began. We were soon sliding over red sand. 

Wadi Rum looks like the surface of Mars. In fact, the Matt Damon movie “The Martian” was filmed there.

In addition to the traditional Bedouin tent, many of the more upscale tents have taken the Martian theme and run with it. Hence, the dome tent, a round white pod. Most have their own facilities and air conditioning. You can really spend as much or as little as you want to on accommodations in Wadi Rum. We opted for the former for our first sojourn to the red desert. 

The Jeep maneuvered across the desert floor, navigating around and between colossal red rock formations rising on either side of us like stone giants. The Jeep tumbled by the occasional random caravan of wild camels before pulling up to our camp, Memories Aicha Luxury Camp. 

We were guided to the sheehsa/coffee area where we were reunited with our friends from Chennai. Neither of us had lunch yet so we let the kids scramble up the rock escarpment which rose steeply on either side of the tent city while we waited for lunch to be served, a family-style serving of maqlooba, a Jordanian chicken and rice dish. “Maqlooba” means “upside down” in Arabic and that is exactly how the dish is prepared. 

After lunch, in order to avoid the somnambulism brought on by such a heavy meal, we went on Jeep excursion to see some of the nearby sights, our family in one Jeep, the other family in another. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Wadi Rum

Last weekend, we had the opportunity to meet friends who are currently living in Jerusalem in Wadi Rum for a night of glamping.  It was our first trip to Wadi Rum; we had been planning to go for a while, but had yet to fit it in.  It definitely did not disappoint.

We were picked up in the parking lot just past the visitor center.  We would be driven in a 4x4 "jeep" out to the camp. 

These are just a few shots from our arrival.  It’s been a couple of weeks and I wanted ed to get these up. More photos to come!