Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lawrence of Arabia Part II

Shalom and Salaam Aleikum, darlings! Back from the exhausting Middle East, a region of the world where way too many people insist on living like it was still the 3rd Century C.E.
We were so busy traipsing around, there was no time for blogging. So I'm kind of starting from the end of the trip. After about 9 days in Israel, we crossed the border into Jordan (Eilat-Aqaba) and spent two days in the very same desert, Wadi Rum, where T.E. Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia, lived and loved and got much sand between his toes. More importantly, this is the very same desert where Lawrence of Arabia the movie was shot. I was thrilled to get the same sand between my toes as Alec Guiness.


The unsung hero of this trip is our magnificent friend Ildiko, who sadly did not come with us, but who put us in touch with her friend Obeid, who owns a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum, where his son Nayel hosted us for 2 nights in the desert, sleeping under the stars and the Milky Way. For two nights I gazed at both Dippers and Mars and some constellations I decided looked like Cancer and Sagittarius, until my eyelids gave out. But what floored me was the Milky Way. And the shooting stars. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.

For all of you who doubt that your spoiled little Enchilada could not possibly withstand the rigors of the desert, you are mistaken. I felt more at home than Omar Sharif (no doubt helped by the fact that this particular Bedouin camp had modern plumbing and mattresses, and that Nayel was a spectacular cook). For dinner he buried a pot in the sand containing chicken and a vegetable stew that made us go for seconds and thirds and fourths.

                                                         Our camp.

Seriously, I love the desert. As long as scorpions and snakes do not materialize, I'm happy. We were lucky that we arrived a couple of hours before sunset and were sent on a delightful camel ride for two hours. Camels are delightful creatures as long as they don't break into a sprint. The totality of my entrails was rearranged in the space of 10 seconds by a trotting camel. Jaunty camels are not recommended for women and we can't understand how men can take it either.

                                                    Lorenza de Arabia

At night the most delicious cool breeze caressed us as we watched the stars. And during the day, except for the infernal hours from 1 to 3 pm, the heat was totally bearable. We went on jeep rides that were as innard-shaking as the camels.

                                                     Nayel and Ali

There are many Bedouin camp sites in Wadi Rum, and it is a big tourist attraction, so don't for a moment think that I didn't notice that it is a cottage industry. Still, it is an amazing trip and if you wish to do it, Obeid and Nayel are your guys.

                                                 The splendid Nayel.

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