Wadi Rum, Aqaba, and tonight back in Amman
We left Petra Friday at noon and had lunch at a Jordanian NGO/service organization that trains disabled children to enable them to have a trade. From there, we drove to Wadi Rum - a "desert-scape" with towering mountains, pink sands, and a sea of desert that extends seemingly forever. This is where T. E. Lawrence ("of Arabia") was based in the 1915-18 Arab Revolt.
We "checked in" to our tents; rested for an hour; had a group meeting to discuss some new program requirements; and then headed off in our 4x4 jeeps into the desert sea. Pictures don't do justice to the vastness, the beauty, the immensity, the ruggedness, the calm.
We ended our tour of Wadi at sunset on a hill (a rock hill of course); drove back to camp, where the bedouin cooked an amazing feast for us - all our feasts are amazing; all of them prepared with our 5 vegetarians in mind!; plus all the regular favorites of Jordanians (bedouin and others) - lamb, chicken, and all sorts of other treats. After dinner, Dr. Raed (our host, and head of SIT-Jordan) taught us dabke dance and bedouin singing. We were at a camp fire for most of the night with bedouin tea. At one point, Dr. Raed walked us across a half-mile or so of mudflats, so we could get a better view of the stars and, eventually, the rising moon. We sought peace and quiet, but with a group this size, that hardly ever happens. We had it last night for about 10 minutes. During that time, we saw several shooting stars and stars as bright as ever we've seen.
This morning, a great breakfast and then an hour (or more) lecture by Dr. Raed about the bedouin - society, culture - and about Jordan's water situation and the struggle with Saudi Arabia over water, among other issues (economics, eco-tourism, and the struggle of the bedouin to maintain their way of life.
After this, we boarded the bus for Aqaba. We went right to our boat and rode out - past Eilat, Israel; past Taba Egypt; and toward Saudi Arabia - so we saw 4 countries in one spot: the Gulf of Aqaba. Students snorkled over the corral reef; returned to the boat for another feast! And we just enjoyed the water for a few hours. Then back to Amman ... and here we are.
Back to regular classes tomorrow (I feel that this 2.5 day visit to these amazing sites are absolutely "class experiences" - just not formally structured).