Westmont in Wadi: 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

This post was written on April 9th, 2012

It seems kind of unfitting to keep calling our semester “Westmont in Istanbul” when we are no longer in Turkey. Not to say that I’m not missing Turkey terribly, because I am. But I’m not complaining about our adventures in Jordan so far.

Since my last update regarding dead sea adventures and exploring Petra, we’ve spent the weekend camping in the deserts of Wadi Rum with a group of beduins. If this doesn’t scream adventure, I’m not sure what really does. This weekend has been one of my favorites on the trip so far - complete with camel rides, jeep tours, sand dune rolling, rock climbing, campfire conversation/dance parties and a night sky full of stars. My ideal weekend in a nutshell.

Saturday morning after a short visit to little Petra, we jumped on our tour bus and headed out to Wadi Rum. Driving through the countryside of Jordan is simply beautiful, and even though it was a long bus ride, it was great scenery the entire way through. We then got to a small village where we unloaded our luggage and reloaded it onto 6 jeeps we would take into the drop off point in Wadi Rum. Windows rolled down, sand as far as the eye could see, and I knew for sure we had entered the desert zone. 

Now, we had prearranged for us to ride to our campsite on camels. Yes, CAMELS. And not just for a short 10 minutes, for 2 hours, through the deserts of Wadi Rum as we approached our campsite. This had to be one of the greatest experiences of the trip so far - our entire team on 25 camels, just riding through the desert. To break it down, it was amazing and exciting for the first 10 minutes, then became slightly boring, then became kind of uncomfortable, then we all became numb, and then uncomfortable once again. But it was the experience of a lifetime and we all took advantage of it!

Camping was AWESOME. I’ve missed this laid back lifestyle that I only get to experience during the summers, and being out in the middle of the Jordanian desert gave me exactly what I’ve been missing. We had tiny little tents in our camp, an awesome platform to lay out and relax on and plenty of tea and water to go around. It was the perfect weekend, and exactly what our team needed.

Sunday morning we headed out early for what Jim, one of our professors, aptly called “Wadi bashing” which means driving around in jeeps around the desert looking at some of the cool sites in Wadi Rum. Let me just say, this was INSANE. Our driver, Ali, definitely had fun throwing us around in the jeep and drifting through sand dunes and over hills. It was adventure in the full sense of the word! We stopped at a canyon, a huge sand dune, and great climbing spots. Definitely one of my favorite adventures on this trip so far.

That night some of the beduins from the camp over yonder came over and played some traditional music for us while we relaxed around the campfire. I mean, when you throw a bunch of Westmont kids around a campfire with great music playing it’s only a matter of time before the dancing begins. Our tour guide provided the spark, dressing up in full beduin gear, dragging Jim and Heather out on the dance floor and getting everyone up for a full-on beduin dance party. Everyone was carefree, the stars were out, and it was a grand evening for all. 

Right now we are driving out from Wadi Rum headed for two more sites in our last day in Jordan, including Mt. Nebo where we will look into the promised land as Moses did. Unfortunately for Moses, he never made it in, but we will. Tomorrow we cross the border into Israel, and begin the last leg of our journey in the Holy Land. 

That idea blows my mind, the fact that in 24 hours we will (hopefully) be in the holy land with three weeks to explore all that Israel and Palestine has to offer. Those weeks will be jam packed with academia, guest speakers, and more adventures, but they are also our last weeks together, so you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be out soaking up as much of the Holy Land as I can.

Israel, we’re coming for you.

Respectfully submitted,