May 11, 2017
Last night, Graham Denison, our artist, held his last cocktail party and he unveiled his latest painting. the Taj Mahal. He does all of his painting with a pallet knife and they are amazing. Our Captain Maroje and our Chief Engineer Nedyalko are doing the unveiling.
Here are Norm and Robert having a photo op before dinner.
Here are some pictures of the port. We got in very early as the people going on the Petra trip had an early start.
On our last trip, we made the astounding and really jaw-dropping trip to Petra and it was one of the highlights of our world cruise. So today, we opted to take the excursion to Wadi Rum.
This is where much of the film “Lawrence of Arabia” was shot– and some of the movie “The Martian” was filmed. It is known as the “Valley of the Moon”. It is well known due to that connection with T.E. Lawrence who was based here during the Great Arab Revolt of 1917-1918.
Our guide today was Mohammed – and he told us right away that he was the third… the prophet was first, then Mohammed Ali and then him. So we knew we had an interesting guide. He has been a guide in this area for 29 years.
It took about an hour to drive to the entrance to Wadi Rum where we met our Bedouin drivers in the open trucks.
On the way, Mohammed told us about the land of Jordan and its many Biblical references. Jordan means “steep land” and Wadi is a valley or riverbed. Rum means old. We are surrounded by 3 other countries in the Aqaba port, and they are very close. They are Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia and are all within 40 km of each other. We can actually see them from Jordan.
The desert here has a lot of underground water so you can see the Bedouins growing crops. Tomatoes, eggplant and watermelon are the main ones. Some of the Bedouins have started to farm now that the borders make their herding difficult. But Jordan’s main export is phosphate which is used for fertilizer – and it also makes farming successful as the soil is rich in it. There is a train that takes the phosphate to the port for export.
Jordan is a peaceful country and has a Mediterranean climate so we even saw olives and grapes being grown here. They do not have the monsoons that many of the countries in Asia have.
Here are some of the pictures of the ancient valleys and towering sandstone mountains rising out of the sand. We didn’t see any climbers but heard that they like to climb the granite and sandstone cliffs and mountains. Pictures really cannot capture the immenseness or beauty but some have the vehicles and people in them so you might be able to tell the scale.
We stopped at a place that you could take a camel ride. So, of course I did.
We saw the likenesses of both Lawrence of Arabia and King Hussain carved into the rocks.
There are several Bedouin tribes who live in scattered camps throughout the area. We stopped at two of them for spiced tea, dates and sesame cookies. Here is the first one – the bags are the spices they use in the tea. It was delicious.
Norm was the model for the headscarves!
Our last stop was at a Bedouin camp that also serves as a hotel. We had more tea with dates and sesame cookies in the main gathering area, and Mohammed led some of us in Arabic dancing. Then, they let us see the rooms. One type is smaller with no air conditioning and the other is larger and does have AC. I know which one we would opt for!
They do have cell phones here!
On our way back, we saw herds of goats and sheep and a woman shepherdess. There are also lots of camels and they eat what is left after the crops are harvested.
Tomorrow we head to Luxor on our overnight trip. We have never been to Egypt and are looking forward to it. It isn’t every day you are right between Asia and Africa!