As promised in my last blog , I am back to take you through the unending , beautiful and mystical desert of WadiRum (Valley of the moon ).
The trip to Wadi Rum from Wadi Musa is around 90 minutes on a well cemented road . I was accompanied by my two newly found friends , the ever so welcoming hotel employee and the shy professional from Taiwan. You can buy the tickets at the tourist centre at Wadi Rum directly.
As you are on the threshold of the Wadi you will be greeted by Jabat al Mazmar (commonly known as the Seven Pillars of Wisdom) on your left . These , as the name suggests are towering conjoined rock formations rising majestically from the ground.
We sped through the expanse of sand which beleaguered us on both sides and reached an establishment where our sedan was parked and we were shifted to a badass open air 4WD. The local Bedouin guy dressed in ankle length robe and black and red head gear became our new driver. I immediately felt like a quintessential Hindi movie actress who featured in a dream sequence, romanced and sang ballads as never ending sand swept in the backdrop ,atop a sturdy military green open air SUV , hair and sari all perfectly flying away from face . Quite a vivid imagination eh !
As our vehicle entered the real Wadi , the ride became bumpier and more fun. The place has to be seen to be believed. There were gargantuan sandstone formations which much like my imagination , gave the place a dramatic feeling.I could not get enough of the view of the Nature under the mild evening sun rays. Wadi Rum depicts human evolution and nature’s magic simultaneously. The 74000 hectare area has numerous inscriptions and rock art which hint at continual human habitation and metamorphosis. It also boasts of completely organic arches , various narrow gorges , humoungous cliffs and sandstone mountains.
I was particularly psyched about climbing any of the rock bridges Wadi Rum boasted of . I wanted to feel like that Indian film heroine again . The dust had settled and thick red sand of desert had enveloped the landscape now . We climbed the Um Fruth Bridge ( the cover picture of this blog post )which is roughly 15 metres above the ground. The ascent was marked with slabs of rock and some narrow paths guiding us to the bridge . While the climb is easy , the bridge itself is quite narrow ,therefore , anyone with slight vertigo may need a helping companion. In my case , I was now the quintessential Hindi film Hero for my Taiwanese friend as he hesitated to “risk his life ” for a perfect photo. It was only after much cajoling and my driver and me striking a classic Titanic pose on that narrow bridge that our friend finally gave in. We spent sometime there marvelling at the landscape , various hues of red sand , purples of the cliffs and the over all majesty of this natural piece of art which was painted before us.
It was intriguing as well as somewhat scary to tread through the confined abyss which are abundant in the desert . The walls of these gorges bear rock art from as long as 200 years back , I was told .We interesteingly found that sometimes they narrow down drastically ,enough to allow a person who is on a diet to pass through ! (I am not divulging which one of us was not able to squeeze .) We imbibed some more of the sun and its colourful effect on the desert , had some insight into the Bedouin way of life, played on the red sand , let out the child in us for a while and then decided to head back. I promised myself to be back to Wadi Rum , stay under the stars in the Bedouin camp and live without cell phone signals for a day or two . “Next time” , I consoled myself and produced “only my second time alone” as an excuse .
We had to sadly return the open air bad ass blah blah 4WD to its rightful owners and realise the importance of our sedan in the dropping night temperatures . We began our journey back to Wadi Musa. You must be thinking all is done now .
As we advanced through the pitch dark road devoid of any traffic lights , the only illumination was from the speeding vehicles from the opposite direction. The driver began to slow down and I suddenly had my heart in my mouth. (Hindi films do not have a positive impact on your psyche all the time). I was toying with various ideas of self defence when he called us to come out of the car and watch something. I could not see a soul in the dark , turned out I was looking in the wrong direction. As I corrected my orientation and acclimatized my eyes to the darkness ,I saw the most beautiful night sky of my life .It was my first sight of the Milky Way. The night was devoid of any cloud cover , light pollution and mist. The sky looked like a long scarf or “duppatta” of an Indian woman adorned with thousands of sequins .(And Hindi flims are back!). It was one of the most gorgeous views of my life and will be etched in my mind forever . It was silent and surreal. We all were spellbound. I thanked my stars again. Wink !
I wrapped up my night with a much required Hammam. You will find a plenty in Wadi Musa .The procedure was shower, steam , scrub , lying on hot stone and shower again.I bid adieu to my Taiwanese companion after a hearty dinner and lauded him for being a single father to a three year old daughter.
Owing to the unpredictable nature of my job, I had to skip Dead Sea . However I will be writing about that journey soon from a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum .