Saturday, September 03, 2005

Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum - bridge
Originally uploaded by CharlesFred.
Petra was going to be a hard act to follow, but we were off to Wadi Rum for a couple of days. They call Wadi Rum the desert of mountains, as it is full of large lumps of rock - limestone and granite, some the size of mountains, arising from a desert of mainly red sand. Here almost all the features were natural and teh area is protected as an ecological senstive area.

We were to stay in a bedouin tent and be driven around in an open Toyota land cruiser, to see the sites and be let out to spend time just walking, up the crags, through desert canyons and so on.

All very fine and enjoyable.

But the highlight was being dropped off in a bedouin tent at 3 in the afternoon and having nothing to do until the next morning apart from eating dinner with our hosts.

After so many early starts and with it beuing so hot, we would spend the first couple of hours trying to sleep, when the flies weren't annoying us too much. Then we would walk to a nearby landmark, such as a local spring and then to a high point from where we could enjoy the sunset at about 7.

We would stay until we saw Venus and Jupiter in the western sky, already nearing their descent. The two planets were almost perfectly aligned although Jupiter would make ground on Venus every day, moving steadily to the right. One could picture the diagrams of the solar system from books and picture the orbits each of these planets were taking around the sun. They seemd so close and so familiar, and yet so rarely do we ever see them in our city homes, the night sky obliterated by clouds and street lights.

These would be followed by brighter stars and then the whole galaxy as the Milky Way would come into view, aligned north-south as if thick clouds were forming above.

The flies would have gone to sleep by now, so the only sounds were of the wind blowing around the rocks and the occasional squark of a crow.

It was a magical experience. All alone in the desert, with only the sky as entertainment. We would take a mattress out onto the cool sand and lie down trying to identify the constellations and looking out for shooting stars, of which we saw about four every evening.

A night-time wander would reveal the Milky Way had changed direction and mighty Mars shone down in its red glory, matching the colours of the sand.

Morning would come at about 5.30 am and we were moving already before 7 to take advantage of the beautiful cool desert air.

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