You might all be amazed to learn that Rachel and I discuss our blog on a regular basis and so, on Wednesday morning, it was decided that I would be in charge of the blog for that day. This meant two things to me. Firstly, that I would have to take extra special note of everything we did and secondly, inevitably, that things would probably take a turn for the surreal.
On Wednesday morning we all piled into the bus with Imran, our driver, and Osama, our marvellous guide to head for Wadi Rum and a genuine Bedouin experience. We arrived at the desert visitor centre at about midday and recieved a map of all the sights in the desert. One, rather amusingly, was described as having a lot of sand in it! Anyway, we admired the 7 pillars of wisdom (and I regretted for the hundredth time that I'd never seen Lawrence of Arabia!) and then we hopped into a very hot four wheel drives for our desert safari. Our first stop was for tea in a Bedouin tent, made with some amazing goat hair material, and then we moved over to the shelter of a rock face for a picnic lunch. After that we went to a few sights. I can't remember the order we went to them in but here's the general drift of things:
1) Lawrence of Arabia's house - not amazingly exciting
2) A gorge with a lot of wall carvings in which was really interesting and just made me want to strap on my climbing harness and scale the rock faces.
3) A sand dune which we trekked up, and then ran down.
4) Some more carvings, this time of camels, which were very well carved and probably useful to ancient travellers who would have been able to understand them.
5) A natural rock bridge which we were allowed to climb up and where Rachel marvellously conquered her fear of heights to pose in photos (which we'll post eventually)
After these sites we were taken to our campsite and had tea under a rock face in the shade. It was blissful. Half the group (the noisy half!) went to climb another hill but Rachel and I, lured by limitless supplies of hot sweet tea, stayed put and chatted with the Bedouin and some other group members. Eventually, it was decreed that we had to go and watch the sunset. It's very difficult to describe the desert and the vastness of the landscape and the peacefulness of the place but our photos and little video clips, when posted, should go part way to explaining.
The sun set, as is inevitable, and everyone else headed back for dinner, except us and out guide who were deep in conversation about intellectual things (yes, really we were!) and we stayed chatting in the peace and beauty of the desert for sometime. We made it back in perfect time for our best meal so far and we all sat around outside eating merrily and enjoying watching the stars rise into the sky. It was at this point that we met the Sheikh. I was already nervous about scorpians so had put myself (and my torch) on scorpian patrol but the sheikh gave me something else to worry about. He needed a new wife. Osama suggested that the sheikh give me 1 camel in payment which I could then sell back to Osama, who could sell it back to the Shiekh (making everyone a profit and creating me a husband.) I wasn't convinced that this was a fair price as I need two camels to start a camel farm so he offered to marry Rachel for 1 camel too - perfect!!
Lieing down under the stars to sleep was magical. I couldn't close my eyes because a) I was looking out for snakes b) I was looking out for scorpians and c) I was looking out for the Sheikh (particularly as he had informed me that he was off to drink some camel's milk and that it was widely know that this milk was Bedouin viagra!!!) I eventually dozed off and we slept well without any untoward events. Waking up in the desert and drinking more Bedouin tea was the perfect end to a wonderful 24 hours.