The day we drove into Jordan it was unseasonably cold. It also took longer than expected to cross the border from Israel to Jordan so after exploring the Roman ruins in Jerash we decided to drive straight to our Bedouin camp without stopping through Amman as originally planned. The drive was long and bumpy but I’m proud to say I didn’t suffer car sickness like I did in Thailand.
Instead I turned around in my seat and laid my forehead against the back trying my hardest to sleep without falling off. When we finally arrived at the Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp, it was cool and dark outside but the desert facade surrounding our tents was lit with candles creating a seemingly warm glow.
The Bedouins are nomadic Arabs who eventually settled into Israel, Jordan and a few other surrounding countries. They have lived in these deserts for thousands of years using camels to travel. The Bedouins are known for their generous hospitality and many tribes have opened up their camps to the public allowing travelers to experience authentic accommodations in the desert.
Our hosts quickly grabbed our bags and carried them into a large stone courtyard between the tents. Once our group had assembled out of the van, they led us into one of the large tents. It was filled with light and at one end we found a steaming buffet waiting for us. The dishes were filled with lamb, chicken, rice, eggplant, hummus, Bedouin pita, vegetables and fresh salads. One of the hosts kindly pointed out all the vegetarian options for me (there were plenty).
We piled food onto our plates then settled into a large dining tent with a fire to keep us warm. The edge of the tent was lined with layers of cushions for seating and inside the walls it was surprisingly warm. Everyone sat in silence except for the stray comment and the sound of forks scraping against plates.
When we finished eating, we took a break to find our beds. The Bedouins carried our luggage down and we broke off in pairs to find our tent rooms for two much nicer than I had expected. The rooms were bare but they had twin beds piled high with thick blankets, a nightstand, lamp, candle and a power strip. The hosts explained that at 11 PM they would have to turn off the diesel generator providing the camp with electricity (which was why we had candles). Much to my surprise we found out they also had a weak wifi signal that worked as long as the generator was running.
What a pleasant surprise this was. Relying on a generator goes to show just how much we value our electricity and wifi back at home. All we need to do is simply flick a switch or turn our phones on, and it’s working. And if we want to look for cheaper rates, it’s as easy as looking at something like these Green Mountain Energy plans to learn more about what they offer, and how we can pay less money, which is a bonus in itself. We really do have it easy, and we don’t even think about how people who don’t have this cope day-to-day. But as long as they had access to their generator, it looked like they managed relatively well.
Back in the large tent with the fire, some of the Bedouin men walked around silently serving us sweet sage tea straight from a large iron pot. They brought out a few pipes and sisha. As the tent filled up with smoke from the hookah and the fire, some drifted off to sleep atop the piles of cushions.
With only a bit more time with the generator on, everyone started heading towards bed. Instead, Geoff and I wandered out into the desert. Beyond the glow of our little camp there were no lights. Despite this, the moon seemed to illuminate our path. As the camp lights got more distant I started asking questions like “what would we do if we got kidnapped,” and had to use every bit of willpower I had not to jump behind a rock when we saw headlights miles in the distance. But even the rocks didn’t seem so inviting because in my imagination the howling dogs echoing through the night were wolves.
Geoff wandered off towards a boulder so I had to follow… the only thing worse than finding out what lay beyond the rocks was standing out in the open by myself as wolf bait. Climbing up, I startled after placing my hand on something long, thin and sleek. What I anticipated to be a snake (or some other creature of the night) was a thick black cord winding its way across the rock. So maybe that’s how the Bedouins get their wifi…
We sat on the rock and I got to practice taking long exposures. It’s been awhile since my brother taught me how, but I was proud when I remembered to manually adjust the settings. I did a post with his tips that you should check out if you’re interested in photography. The distraction of photography was probably the only thing that kept my imagination from going wild (okay, it was kind of peaceful… theoretically at least).
We walked back to camp just before the electricity went out. I climbed under at least four blankets before switching out the light. We had to wake up bright and early the next morning for our next stop, the lost city of Petra.
Would you ever give Bedouin camping a try? And am I the only one with anxiety…Would you find the solitude of the desert at night frightening or relaxing?
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