Stairmaster in Petra and off to the desert!
We had breakfast at Gassabah’s family home in Petra - fresh falafels (I don’t think I will ever be satisfied with falafels back home again). Gasab teased Mark some more. We went into Petra the back way (yep, there’s another way in which is a good option if you’re doing 2 days, as there are next to no tourists on this road) and spent the morning checking out the monastery (about a million steps).
Next we were off to Wadi Rum (literally Moon Valley) in the desert. We took a cab there and met up with Gassab’s girlfriend, who is a Hungarian tour guide. She was conveniently in Wadi Rum leading a group and we decided to join them for a jeep tour and stay in the “Bedouin camp” out in the desert. There are tons of these camps there for tourists, not really the genuine camp they claim to be, judging by the running water and electricity, but it’s fun to camp in the desert. You stay in your own tent with a bed and electricity (powered by solar panels) and there is a big tent for dinner and breakfast. There is also a washroom with showers…that may or may not have enough water to work… ours did not, nor was there any hot water left, but we managed to clean ourselves. But who am I to complain - washing your hair while camping, let alone in the dessert, is beyond luxury.
The desert is vast and awe-inspiring with strange rocky hills and mountains scattered throughout. We did a jeep tour with the Hungarian group which allowed us to see a great deal (scrambling up a stone bridge, running around on sand dunes, observing the Neolithic stone carvings, having tea with some Bedouins, and standing where Lawrence of Arabia once called home.) The rock is extremely featured and looks like climbing paradise but beware: it’s a mixture of sandstone and basalt which makes it very crumbly in parts and one should only climb with a guide who knows where the rock is solid. One day I would love to return to do a climbing trip.
Under the sea!
After an early start to watch the sunrise, we ate breakfast and cabbed to Aqaba. Aqaba is the resort city of Jordan, situated on the Red Sea. It is the most modern and clean city we saw in Jordan with lots of bars and cafes. We have yet to be in contact with our host so we try to find a WIFI café…a little difficult but not impossible. We cab to the free south beach since we had no luck talking to our host. The Red Sea is beautiful and not the least bit red (obviously didn’t expect it to be, but am now wondering why it is called the Red Sea). We sat on the beach which I’m sad to say was full of litter and unpleasantly windy. So that was somewhat short-lived, not that I minded as I am not a beach person. Apparently the Red Sea has renowned coral reefs, excellent for scuba diving and snorkeling. The 3 of us went out snorkeling with Mani, a guide.
I saw clown and lion fish, fed a school of fish and stepped on a sea urchin. Yep, you read that right. On our way out of the sea, my left foot slammed down directly onto an urchin and, in my pain, I backed up into another urchin with my right heel. So down I went, almost drowning in 2 feet of water. I frantically try to remember if urchins are poisonous and curse my lack of sea creature knowledge. It hurt like hell but I am told they don’t need to amputate. I staggered out of the sea and our tough-love-guide suggested, aka forced me, to walk hard all the way to the hotel where I had to do laps around the deck. The bottom of my foot had 6 urchin needles in it = searing pain every step I take. Never got a clear answer as to why I needed to walk on it… suspect I was dealing with a sadist. I was given some lemon to rub on it and promised the pain will cease in a few hours…it doesn’t.
That night we went out to an English pub with our host Omar, another couch surfer, and Omar’s diving instructor friends for some beers. If you told me we were in Canada that night, I would have believed you. It was a great night with lots of laughs.
We cab to the border (15 min) the next morning, pay our “departure fee” of 10 dinars (yes, they charge you to leave the country!?) and say goodbye to Jordan.
Fun fact: Urchins hurt but so does some of the coral if you touch it (Nicole has proof on her knees)