Greetings from Wadi Mousa, Jordan. We've been busy bees since our last entry. From Aqaba Jerod and I rented another car. We were a little nervous since an international driver's license is required (why didn't we bother to get them before we left?), but even a chain like Hertz never asked to see one, so away we went.
Our first stop was a Safeway grocery store. I don't know why the worst grocery chain in the US is the only one in Jordan, but we stocked up on food and headed North into the desert. Our first stop was Wadi Rum. Wadi Rum is the former home of Lawrence of Arabia. We skipped the expensive jeep tours and headed out into the desert on our own. The first day we passed "Lawrence's Spring" on our way to a designated campsite. We were treated to pretty breathtaking scenery reminiscent of the Southwest United States, with huge sandstone mountains and hills protruding from the desert floor, all carved and eroded from years of desert flash floods and blowing sand. We made it into our campsite around sunset and were promptly invited into a Bedouin tent and offered us more tea than we could drink in a week. We stayed for a bitand tried to make some conversation, but the language barrier was a bit strong. We set up our camp and bunkered down for what proved to be a extremely windy night. Despite being caught in the relative open in 25 mph winds the tent held strong and we got a lousy night's sleep.
The next day we woke early and continued to hike. We stopped by Lawrence of Arabia's house (what was left of it) before attempting to find a more sheltered campsite. We ended up camping in a cave (sort of) about 75 feet off the desert floor. We built a lovely campfire and had some soup cooked on a bedouin stove that we borrowed after failing to find any fuel for ours. We had a much nicer sleep, setting us up for a leisurely stroll out of the desert the next morning.
We stopped in Rum Village to return the borrowed stove, had some tea with our friend Ali, and got behind the wheel to drive to Um Sihon, home of our couchsurfing host Nawaf. We met Nawaf at his family home in the village. We had tea, met some of his 7 children and then he led us to his couchsurfing apartment on the edge of town. There we met his other guests, from Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, and Denmark, as well as some of his local friends. We sat around drinking arak and having a feast and sharing travel advice.
This morning we had some breakfast, dropped one of the couchsurfers at his work, and with our new friends Simon we set off for Petra. Petra is absolutely spectacular, but get here to visit ASAP. Entry was 38 Jordanian Dinars (almost 60 USD), and will be going up to 90 Dinars next year. Apparently the quantity of tourism is taxing the water supply out in the desert. While we found it to be crowded, there are plenty of places to get off the beaten path and do some real exploring. Unlike parks in the US, there are very few off-limits places, and you can crawl around in ancient tombs (built by the Nabateans if you're wondering) and go almost wherever you want. Definitely a place to see. We will return tomorrow for another hike (we bought a two day pass) and then probably head North to Amman, with a possible stop in Karak.
Hopefully we will be getting more frequent internet access soon, so apologize for the delay in blogging. Hope you enjoyed it.