Daily Archives: 2011-11-18

Sacred sisterhood – Aqaba, Jordan

We arrived into Aqaba and searched around for a place to camp. The ladies really want to “rough” it this week but because things were much busier than anticipated, we ended up at Ban’s family house. We spent the night in luxury at the resort condo right next to the beach. Just across the water I could see Egypt and Israel…so strange to know the turbulence between them first hand.

We decided against cooking in favor of picking up some food to go. Ruba, Ban and I opted for fish while the other two searched out some chicken. they also found the sweet noodly syrupy dessert they had raved about earlier. I was chuffed to try it.

We ate up our supper in relative silence and I realized that throughout the time I spent with my new friends, we had never had music or much sound at all. I can most certainly confirm this contributed to the sense of serenity I felt over the past few days. Gratuitous noise really wears on me and most people don’t understand. I am super sensitive and tend to get drained when I don’t make quiet time a serious priority. I was so grateful for the powerful gentle strength I felt with them.

I had expressed my desire to try wearing a headcovering, not for religious reasons but out of curiosity. Not only did it look comfy, it was also much more elegant than the black U of A toque that has been keeping my head warm for the past few weeks. Ruba and Ban gifted me with a scarf and taught me how to wrap it. I felt a bit silly because I couldn’t seem to get it right but after a few tries, it was satisfied. I felt different and looked different in a way I can’t explain other than that I felt protected.

After we finished up our meals then made our way down to the beach. The moon was beaming down on us proudly as we all tried to agree on just the right place to nestle into the sand. We ended up quite close to the water equal distance between two long docks. Even tho it was dark, the moon lit up our faces and I was able to take in even the most subtle features of these fair women.

We shared the delicious dessert and all prayed in our own way. I gave a little speech to my newfound sisters and tried to convey how significant this meeting was for me. I gave them each a bookmark and kept one for myself, to remind us all of this meaningful trip.

I got pretty tired after that and crashed hard. We had breakfast in the morning but I wasn’t really present. I found out that the fast ferry was cancelled and I would have to navigate the exhausting overland trip back to Egypt through Israel. Recognizing I was on a time crunch now, the girls offered to drive me to the border with solemn faces I didn’t really understand. It didn’t occur to me until we were minutes away that this was a big deal for them. For a couple of them, this was the closest they had ever come to this very controversial spot in their life. I felt the emotion choking up my friends as we drew closer to the gate of the border and I began to regret having agreed to let them take me there.

We took some photos and said tearful goodbyes before I hurried off to catch up with Lee. He had waited until our meeting time which I honored but since he didn’t recognize me with the headcovering, he started off without me. As I began going through the protocol to leave Jordan and enter Israel, I felt a tug at my heart. I knew I would see these woman again but some part of me had changed having met them.

Grateful for teachers.

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Priceless gifts – Wadi Musa, Jordan

The next morning we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before heading off to visit Little Petra. We climbed in and around the smaller version of the World Wonder. It was pint size, as my Dad would say. I actually found it quite charming much less crowded ( >10 tourists in total) than the larger than life size version situated miles away. I hear you can hike from one to the other but it is a bit of a trek.

We visited the souvenir tents afterwards where we were given Coca-Cola and rug weaving lessons. I got right in there and after a couple tries, I got the hang of it. I found it quite fun but I was no match for the master who zipped through one rug in no time flat. The girls took some time to pray and shopped around a bit.

Lana discovered a very rare metal compass from 1917 with an inscription of a Robert Frost poem she loved. What an incredible find! The antiques roadshow would have a hayday with this one. When she showed me I advised her (perhaps a little too) strongly to get it. She agreed and began the sales process asking for the pricec. She was heartbroken when the old shopkeeper refused to sell it to her suddenly stubbornly insisting it wasn’t for sale. I saw her heart sink and though she tried to hide her disappointment, I could feel it a mile away. If I didn’t know better, I would have worried that my enthusiasm sabotaged the sale. But these kind honorable people don’t work that way…I knew something else was to blame for the bizarre behaviour.

We all piled into the SUV and made our way South towards Aqaba. We were not five minutes into the journey when the compass mysteriously appeared on the armrest next to Lanas unsuspecting elbow. It was a painful 30 seconds watching her completely oblivious to the surprise waiting to be found. Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore so I constructed a solution. She turned to answer my very pointed question “What ever happened with that compass back there?” absentmindedly picking up the object in her way to move it she could face me in the backseat. The look on her face when it registered that in her hand she held the very treasure she was mourning was priceless. I think a tear or two escaped the corner of my eyes. I felt so honored to be included in such a loving circle of friends. Lana who loves trip planning (my soul sister) was the mastermind behind this trip and the girls wanted to thank her by surprising her with this gift. It really couldn’t have played out better.

We continued our drive stopping in a store where I found a couple beautiful handcrafted bags (one adorned with the tree of life and the other with camels), a flag for Naders collection, and five shiny souvenir bookmarks I would hide till later. We drove a little longer then stopped by the side of the highway to have a small picnic of pita, olives and eggplant dip. It really hit the spot though I had to complete the snack with ginger cookies I had found the day before.

Grateful for surprise gifts.

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