The Rural Retreat Part II: Wadi Rum and Petra

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Desert dreaming.

Friday February 27: Off to Wadi Rum (and one of the most incredible days of my life!)

My time in Wadi Rum and Petra deserve a post on their own separate of the rest of the retreat because they were such unbelievably amazing days in themselves!

Our day in Wadi Rum was particularly special because our group really got to solidify our bonding experiences with each other. The feelings I experienced in the desert cannot be conveyed with just words. Wadi Rum is so vast and dry and the mountainous rocks are cratered up like the moon.

We had to leave early in the morning from Sharbil bin Hassneh Ecopark on Friday morning because the trip to Wadi Rum is actually a full 5 hours by bus! We got to Wadi Rum around lunchtime, but we had to wait a bit to eat because we actually got a surprise lunch hiding out in the middle of the desert!! I think food was so good because it was right after our crazy 4x4 rides which got our adrenaline pumping and pushed our senses high!!

After lunch, we were scarfed with the traditional red-and-white-checked keffiyeh. On a sidenote, I was told that the Jordanian scarf is actually called a shemagh and the Palestinian scarf (which is checkered black and white) is called a keffiyeh. Let me know if this is correct! Either way, I loved wearing the scarf traditional style on my head, although the reality is that only men wear it in Jordan (you will see Jordanian women wearing the scarf around their necks for a national-pride-related events, but you probably won’t see it worn turban-style by women). Us women were also given beautiful traditional-style embroidered tops and the men were given sheikh-style dresses (djdasha). We were then ready for the rest of our adventuring!!

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Who are these poor guys trying to hitch a ride? Our program directors!

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The Friday souk in the city of Tabqat Fahal.

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On the road again…

After our arrival at Captain’s Camp in Wadi Rum

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Everyone getting loaded up in the 4x4 trucks. We had no idea what adventures were waiting for us!

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Our 4x4 in the desert. You could easily get lost out here - everything looks exactly the same!!

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Me and my 4x4 buddies N. and E.

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My friend C. looking extremely badass with his traditional headscarf.

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We discovered lunch set out for us in the middle of the desert!

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The lunch crew. It was so good, but we didn’t get to eat dessert!! (I think because we ran out of time).

Getting headscarfed and off to more adventures!
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Me and my everything buddy, J. We both love photography and good music!

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Me and C. She is one of the most energetic and enthusiastic people I know! Thanks for being a favorite, C.!!!

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Loaded up in the car and ready to go for more desert shenanigans!

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C., the desert princess.

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I love this shot because of the barely visible moon at the top.

In part 2 of desert 4x4ing, we stopped to see the ancient Nabatean carvings in rock and then climbed up a tough sand dune! I was wheezing by the time we got to the top!

Then….it was camel time!! Watching the sunset after our camel rides was the perfect ending to the perfect day… but it wasn’t the end!!!

That night we celebrated C.‘s birthday by singing and dancing dubkeh with all the Bedouins who run Captain’s Camp (and the مشكلجي who played tricks on everyone!!!). After sufficiently tiring ourselves out, we chilled around the campfire drinking chai and smoking argile. Abu Yazan also told us all about the wood we were burning for the fire (because where can you find wood in the desert?!). He literally seems to know everything about everything!!! I actually do consider our day Wadi Rum as one of the best days of my life! It was an experience I won’t soon forget - thank you everyone for the amazing time!!!

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At the top of the dune! Whoo!

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Us ladies in our gorgeous traditional style tops.

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K. and her camel, who totally loved me because I petted its head!!

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A. and J. cameling.

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Hey buddy!!

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My darling camel and I! We had a very pleasant ride together. Also shoutout to J. for photographing me with the camels!!! The shots were perfect!

Watching the sunset…
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The beautiful desert sunset can only be rivaled by beach sunsets in my mind!

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My darling A. and I! Our time spent as roommates together at both the ecopark and Wadi Rum is part of my favorite memories of the retreat!!

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Me and my favorite Bedouin! (He is actually my program director!)

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Goodbye Wadi Rum…

…and hello Petra!!!
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The entrance to the Siq was guarded by these guys in costume…

Petra this time around was just as awesome as I remember! And besides the obnoxious people trying to sell you things at every turn, I had an amazing time climbing to the High Place of Sacrifice (دير المذبح) with my bestie A. During lunch we both decided we didn’t want to climb to the Monastery (الدير) because we had both been to it last semester - which is why we chose to do the High Place instead! Upon reaching the top, we were met by incredible views of Petra! It is so much to take in.

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Me and the Treasury in Petra!

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Favorite and I <3

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Me and T. are in the right corner. We are so tiny compared to the monumental Treasury!

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Treasury group shot!

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Upon leaving the Siq, you will find this ridiculous cafe called “Why Not Cafe”. Some of the names of these places leave me so confused sometimes!

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Me and A.’s Bedouin pirate friend is chilling at the top there. A. mentioned that she thinks all the men in Petra look like Johnny Depp in Pirates because they all wear the “Bedouin kohl” that is sold in the shops in Petra. It seems to be exclusively worn by the men!

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Enjoying this incredible view near the High Place of Sacrifice.

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We found this donkey near the High Place. He was not moving at all, although he was definitely still alive and well. I think this is the fate of all animals that are used for entertainment/touristic purposes, unfortunately.

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More of this sad, sad donkey…

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This is the actual High Place of Sacrifice! Thankfully we did not become victims of it by falling off!

More of these awesome views from the top!
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*A. is posing in the classic “study abroad” pose.“
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And we got treated to a donkey ride (surprise!) by Abu Yazan back to our bus. Unfortunately, I did not really enjoy mine because the donkey was not very happy and I had a little boy who ran the whole way up the hill whipping the donkey with a stick to make it go faster.
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A. on her donkey.

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Abu Yazan, taking the lead. I swear this guy knows everything about everything!

We left to head back to Amman after our donkey rides and arrived home in the evening. Despite the one day we had off from school, that first week back after the retreat was a tough one! It was a transition back to classes, lack of sleep and internet! I’m not sure when I’ll be able to take another retreat like this one, but inshallah it will be soon!! I am so thankful that me and the AL group had a tremendously awesome experience together on our خلوة and I don’t think I will have another trip that can match that experience anytime soon! Thank you everyone who was part of it <3!!

 
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