Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind

Wadi Rum, Jordan

We’re spending the night at Wadi Rum tonight, almost the whole CLS group, plus our program coordinator Ishraq, her friend Aboud and some of their friends. On our way into the campsite, I was telling about my brother Wesley’s adventures in Wadi Rum, getting stuck half way up the rockface at sundown with a Frenchmen who was not nearly as good of a climber as he claimed, but having no choice but to go the rest of the way up and then down in the dark. So, of course, while most of us watched a gorgeous sunset from sand-level, Chris, Doris, Sam and Galaal decided they were going to scale a rockface (without lines!) and watch the sunset from the top. And as they were coming down and it was getting darker and darker, they said to each other, “Perhaps we should have listened to Maryah!” But then, I’m too timid to hitchhike and drive across Central Asia like Chris, either, so what do I know? 😉

Then they showed us how they were cooking our dinner the real Bedouin way: First, dig a hole in the sand, put in a big metal tube, mound the sand up around it, and build a fire in it. When the sand is good and hot, remove the fire and put in a metal rack of chicken and potatoes, put on a lid and cover with sand, wait an hour and remove. Delicious! And they had my favorite kind of Jordanian salad, just like Umm Alaa makes it, with chopped cucumbers and tomatoes drenched in tahini!

After dinner, Ishraq and I taught the rest of the group the Jordanian dubkeh, and then out came the CDs of Nancy, Ruby, Deena and the rest of the Arab popstars for more dancing!

I had a very interesting conversation with the owner of the camp, Ribha, that started out very inauspiciously with “Oh daughter of the Bedouin [Aboud was telling everyone that I was a “real” Beni Hassan Bedouin, and it had become a joke across camp], why didn’t you marry a Bedouin?” But after the initial awkwardness, he told me about his own American wife, who went back to the States when her mother got cancer, and we talked a lot about why it’s important to visit other cultures, live in other cultures, marry into other cultures, etc., in order for people to better understand each other.

In the process of this conversation, he mentioned the town of Rajef, near Petra, and I mentioned that I had a Peace Corps friend in Rajef. “Ah, Josh!” says Ribha. “Josh is a good guy! So is Zane!” In case Josh is reading along, I wanted to put this out there, because it’s often considered bad luck in Jordanian culture to compliment someone in their presence.

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