27 November 2016

Wadi Rum, Jordan 2016

Photo of my camel ride in spectacular Wadi Rum, possibly the most beautiful desert in the world:

That's right. No photo. Didn't happen. No visit. No camel!
My wildly anticipated third visit to Wadi Rum was a bust.

In fact, our entire promised schedule was destroyed by Mother Nature in a fit of November pique. Brings you face to face with climate change, this rainfall that "normally" would have occurred two months earlier. For us, the storm began in Sharm el-Sheik (Sinai, Egypt). Witnessing the dramatic thunder, lightning, downpour, wind, and hail was rather overwhelming in such an arid area. Sharm received its "average" annual rainfall in that one day, its streets turning into rivers of mud.

The same deluge had hit south Jordan by the time we reached Aqaba, at the south end of the King's Highway (and the north end of the Red Sea) leading to the high desert. In good faith we set off on the one-hour trip to our destination but at the Wadi Rum Protected Area boundary we were turned back. Although only a few mild rain showers were occurring by then, flash floods from the surrounding mountains had wrecked the tents and preparations of our Bedouin hosts impossible to receive us. Not only that, the road was eroding and officials clearly wanted to avoid facing stranded, woebegone tourists.

At a standstill while our driver contemplated a tricky about-face manoeuvre, we had to suck up the huge disappointment. Our local guide hastily (and inadequately) improvised his planned discourse. Distant views across the desert did not compensate. Nor did a makeshift tour around Aqaba. Even the inhabitants were excitedly gathered at the vista of a newly-born turbulent river, rushing to the sea beside the highway.

What a terrible shame in more ways than one. Tourism in Egypt everywhere suffered a mortal blow after last year's explosion of a Russian airliner departing from Sharm. So many Egyptians depend on the industry to support their families. They are warm, friendly, good-natured people, trying to stay optimistic. Atmanna laka al'afdal (I wish you the best) from me and my fellow travellers.

Wadi Rum nostalgia:


Photos: BDM
© 2016 Brenda Dougall Merriman

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