Daily Archives: 2011-11-13

Recognition and Inspiration – Disi, Jordan

I woke up and felt an intense dry chill in the air. I snuggled in deeper and tried to ignore the impending day. finally my curiosity got the better of me and I rose to greet the others who had woke long before I had. I stretched and took a short wander to survey my surroundings. Now that the day had come, I was able to fully grasp the magnitude of the beauty which surrounded me. Though it was chilly in the shade of the valley, the camp was perfectly placed. It was shielded and guarded from anything and everyone. I felt very safe indeed.

I was drinking some tea and having a chat with Alena when four women joined us near the fire. I introduced myself and cheerfully inquired as to their story. I had heard that there were some mysterious Jordanian women who had roughed it in the back country last night. I was fascinated to know them and what they were about.

Lana, Ruba, Ban and Fatimah turned out to be four dynamic adventurous godesses. They were a little shy at first but I turned on my charm and they opened up like precious roses drinking in the sun. We all sat in a circle and shared a scrumptious breakfast of pita, jam, tahini, cheese, lebneh, halwa, cucumbers and tomatoes. And tea..we mustn’t forget the tea. yummers!

The conversation had me spellbound and it didn’t take long to realize these were some outstanding specimens of humanity. The energy we were generating between us was tangible. Groups of tourists who were visiting the Bedouin camp came and went intermittently, but we were oblivious as we drank tiny cups of tea and chattered away excitedly. The longer we talked the more apparent it became that these were women of high stature. Not only were they extremely intelligent but their modesty was striking. We talked about womens rights and how it was to grow up in the middle east. Together we concocted a plan for an innovative retreat that would attract women from all over the world. I get shivers right now just thinking about it.

At one point the conversation came back to me and they began to inquire about my travels. As I shared my experience, Lana became very animated asking me some pretty pointed questions. Then somewhat stunned, she informed me that she had been reading my writing for years. At first, I didn’t really get it. Surely she was mistaken and there was some other whereshegoes out there who she had followed around the world. It actually took some time for me to realize that this was one of my loyal readers who had allowed me into her heart and soul. We were both flabbergasted and didn’t quite know what to do with this unique serendipitous moment. Lana admitted that I had helped inspire her and that it was her dream to travel like me. I felt overwhelmed and strangely self conscious. Here is a phenomenal woman who knows me, accepts me, and believes in me! After the shock wore off (well in all honesty it still hasn’t even as I write this), we did the obvious…traveled together 🙂

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Hidden Wadi Ranch – Disi, Jordan

Alena dropped me off at her place to freshen up while she hurried off to talk to some people about a camel race. Yes, that is how they do it here in Jordan. I was a bit taken aback at her humble abode but after a short time, began to appreciate the simplicity. She came to retrieve me and we made our way with Salah, her Bedouin friend to his “kingdom”.

I admired the humongous rocks seemingly dropped smack in the middle of a vast sand desert. These are no little stones by the way. they tower like mountains but are less ranges than stand alone monuments of natures grandeur. We sped through the sandy dunes as I admired the way the moon lit up the landscape just enough to give me a taste. My mind naturally began to try to fill in the blanks but I resisted, allowing for the anticipation of the surprise tomorrow morning. I would for now just focus on the feeling of this place without the distraction of the eyes.

The camp (past Disi in the middle of nowhere) was nestled into a valley (wadi) and we were protected from any wind, though I am not sure there was any here or anywhere. It was like the earth ceased its rotation. The air was silent and still which almost made it seem like time had stopped. We noshed on a tasty rice, chicken and veggie mixture before feeding the rest to the two cats. We made a fire and drank some delightfully spiced (cardamom and cinnamon and ?) while we got to know each other. I taught Salah some cute word games like “see you later alligator – in a while crocodile” and “no way jose” then realized I had created a monster. He couldn’t get enough and implored me to teach him more. I wracked my brain then began to invent new ones…we created an Arabic response to Hello Jello…Merhaba Ali Baba.

We dragged some sleeping mats over to the fire and bundled ourselves up in piles of thick furry blankets. We chattered away until we all began to drift off. I watched the fire flicker as the cats gingerly tip toed around scouting out a nest for the night. I felt a great sense of peace while I basked in the serenity of the moment then I drifted off to sleep.

grateful for remoteness.

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Three countries in eight hours – Eilat, Israel

Once we got to the Taba border, it was a gong show. There was no real order and several large tour groups tried to muscle their way to the front of the tightly packed mob. others began to get upset hollering angry threats and I realized I wanted out of this fray as quickly as possible. We finally got stamped an walked the 2 minutes to the Israel border control which was a bit more orderly with metal corrals and fans blowing cool air. This quelled tempers for the most part except for a few screaming kids and one very large old man whom I was sure would give himself a heart attack.

when I finally made it to the front, the official began questioning me about my name, my heritage and my travel plans. Then he started hitting on me! This went on for a good ten minutes and I became acutely aware of the hundreds of eyes boring into my back. After all, he was the only person on duty and the line was not getting any shorter. Finally he gave up and stamped my passport somewhat reluctantly. He tried to make me promise I would come back. I told him I would have to since I was traveling by boat from Egypt. This was not the answer he wanted to hear but he smiled and sent me on my way.

I was surprised to find a wifi connection while I waited for the others to catch up so we could catch a cab together. The ride was a short 10 minutes and 60 shekels in a cool sweet smelling taxi with a friendly driver. We all peered out the windows at the modern clean city of Eilat which was just experiencing sunset.

We experienced some real issues with currency and credit cards while trying to pay our fees. My Gods there were lots of fees this day! I guess that is what you get when you traverse three countries in 8 hours. My strong advice is to make sure you have sufficient pounds, shekels and dinars because they are not interchangeable and bank machines are rare at these crossings. You may try your credit card but that may not work, as my Spanish friends found out the hard way. finally we got through all the stamps, checkpoints, interrogations and queues.

We took a 10 dinar taxi ride to Aqaba where I was shocked to find Alena still waiting. She was meant to meet me early in the afternoon and it was now almost 8pm. What a trooper! I thanked her profusely and she assured me it was no problem. She even arranged for my hardy travel buddies to get to their destination.

happily we all shared a taxi out towards wadi rum. We munched on spring rolls and chocolates and sipped pop as we realized we hadn’t eaten most of the day. The almost full moon was beaming in the sky and my mood was much lighter than I would have expected after having endured such a gauntlet of red tape.

Grateful for patience.

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Relaxing – Dahab, Egypt


Right now i am sitting in the bus on my way from Dahab to Taba, the northern tip of then Sinai penninsula. Today I will attempt Jordan through Israel which is said to be the more efficient way than the unreliable ferry from Neweiba. The bus is is full of backpackers like me and many of us are on the same route by the sounds of it.

I am really happy with my new setup which allows me to write on my iPhone with this handy dandy flexi-keyboard. The whole thing takes fits in one hand and weighs less than an apple. Soooo much better than having to cart around and worry about a laptop or netbook. Also in case you hadn’t noticed, my blog site is updated and I think much prettier now, not to mention more functional. If you have an iPhone (I promise this is not an Apple commercial…I am sure it must work on Andriods too, let me know), you can now view my blog in mobile form on your device. I’m now a regular futurista…welcome to 2011.20111113-110134.jpg

So I spent about three days in Dahab and in that time i did not dive once. infact i didn’t even step foot in the ocean. I did get a kick out of watching the hoards of young divers in full wetsuits waddle around the promenade either on their way in or out. Most of the dives around here are accessible from the shore save for some that you need to take a truck or camel…yes there is a camel dive. today Lee headed back down to Sharm to do the famous Thistlegorn wreck and Ras Mohammed national park. I am not sure if we will meet up again in Jordan or not but I have my doubts. Diving can take alot out of you and he may need some recovery time.

We are couchsurfing with Nader who lives in the center of everything and has turned out to be one of my favorite hosts. He is generous, kind and humble to a fault. He also has a sweet fat cat called Garfeild who doesn’t eat lasagna but apparently everything else under the sun. The first night we smoked the sheesha and had a beer, the second night I met up with some other friends who ate with me at Shark. The food was pretty good and the service was impressive. I have to admit I felt a bit strange when the guy came and washed my hands for me in this giant urn. They are very concerned with hygenine here or at least that is what they want you to think.20111113-110117.jpg

One should never come to dahab if they do not like cats. this is a paradise for cat lovers and no doubt you will end up with several feline friends by the end of your stay. they seem to be smaller than the typical housecat which makes them extra cute mini cats…perpetual kittens, if you like. well you can imagine, i was in heaven. every where i went baby kitties darted about or set up shop beside you while you ate. I know you may think this begging would be annoying but these cats are smart. Most of them will just sit very very still and politely wait until you are overcome by their charms. Finally when you cant take their adorable pie wide eyes boring into your soul you will be hypnotized into throwing them a scrap. I have had a cat claim me and sit pretty beside me guarding her possible lunch for a full hour before i rewarded her strong determination. How could i not? After ten days of Vipassana meditation training some people couldn’t sit that stone cold still. impressive. Anyway, most of them (save for a very few sickly looking ones) are adorable and some are super cute…like you want to put them in your pocket (they would fit) and take them home kind of cute. They are fed well by suckers like me and their looks are their livelihood. you had better believe they know it.20111113-110029.jpg

SO now i am here making friends who are on the same path as I. We all don’t really know quite we are doing but have agreed to work together to get to the finish line. there are several different theories flying around right now. Some will take the ferry, others with go overland to Israel and a few more will continue to Jordan. I land in the last group which put me with the couple from Spain. Here goes nothing.

Grateful for traveler camaraderie.

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