We stayed in Petra until after 6pm.  There was so much to see and we could have lingered a lot longer, but we were tired, especially the boy, and Petra gets really empty after all the tour buses pull out.  A few blocks outside of Petra, our bags were waiting for us in the office of the tour company.  We got there and sat down, and after 30-45 minutes, they got around to driving us to our hotel, which was, at most a five minute drive, so that was nice.

We stayed at a lovely hotel in Wadi Mousa, Jordan. Three local touches stand out.  The first two are explained in these photos.

What do the hotels in Eagle River, WI, charge for this?

Classy, but what are they trying to say?

The third thing that was very local to Jordan was the big metal vessel of foul (fava beans) on the breakfast buffet. Unfortunately, all the tour buses got up earlier than we did, so it was, in fact, a big metal vessel lacking foul.

The next morning the tour company sent a driver to take us to Wadi Rum, the largest Wadi in Jordan.  He was polite and calm, but his driving had one quirk, best illustrated here:

The magenta line is the path he took on about every curve. Sarah was in the back and didn’t notice. The roads took a very windy path through the desert mountains: Noah threw up, but Sarah managed to catch it all in a grocery bag.  Speaking of grocery bags, I have never seen a landscape more littered with plastic bags and trash.  The bedouins have adopted the culture of disposability without one crucial element: trash cans!

Several Bedouin tribes currently live in Wadi Rum. Our driver found us a Bedouin guide for a “Jeep Tour,” in a pickup truck with padded benches built in to its bed. My impression is that the tour company was out to get the best price, and their profit would be determined by how little they spent.  We ended up with a guide in his teens. He drove us around to a few of the major spots and recited a line or two about each spot, and we got out of the truck to explore each for a few minutes.  They were spectacular, and would have benefitted from a professional guide.

View from the pickup truck

Wadi Rum is a beautiful canyon cut into granite & sandstone rock.

Its geologically similar to the Judean & Negev deserts (which are adjacent), but strikingly redder.

The tree marks the entrance to Khaz’ali Canyon, where we saw petroglyphs carved into the walls.

The canyon is a narrow passageway between two rocks, possibly another consequence of an earthquake.

Noah liked to study the walls of the canyon.

Sarah hiking a sand dune.

Roy and Noah couldn’t climb it because the hot sand got into their sandals and was really painful.

Also fun, swirling swirling sandstorms that get in your face and eyes.

The tour we signed up was billed as a 1.5 day tour of Petra and Wadi Rum.  What we got was a very good tour of Petra, with a cursory tour of Wadi Rum.  As we went around the Wadi, we saw a lot of similar tours, and nothing a lot different, although some of the tour guides seemed more engaged.  If more professional tours of Wadi Rum exist, I didn’t see much evidence for them.  If you make this trip, ask a lot of questions before signing up.

After we finished our too-short drive around Wadi Rum, we were driven back to the border crossing. When we left Israel for Jordan, the border control agent refused to understand that our long-term visas allowed re-entry, despite Sarah’s trouble-free re-entry from Greece. She decided they needed to cancel our academic visas, and give us new tourist visas when we returned.  When we returned, of course, they were suspicious of this scheme, and again gave us a hard time. There is no central computer where they can look this stuff up. Today. In 2011. In a country saturated with high-tech startups.  We had time for lunch overlooking the beach in Eilat. We walked from the beach to the airport, which is, somehow, in the middle of town, and were home before dark, where we washed the red sand of Wadi Rum off our legs and down the bathtub drain.

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