lessons in Jordan – Part 2
Thanks for tuning back in first of all. I had such great feedback from the last post – who knew there were so many people looking to explore Jordan? So I have felt the pressure to get the next installment out quickly to make sure some upcoming trips can benefit. Here we are at part 2 of lessons in Jordan. This part is where we get to explore some more of Jordan including glamping near Petra, Mount Nebo and Madaba all through the lens of a mum with her young family and, as those of you who have children will know, kids generally could not care less about things like views, antiques or historical artwork. In fact, I would even go as far as to say they can end up despising these things by the end of a long day hanging out with boring old grown ups who stand and stare and take photos a lot! We gave Miss Sparky the official photography duties for a while as she’s generally great with photos, however, we did have to reign her in when it became apparent that she’d decided to try being ‘arty’ and a majority of our photos of some of the things we are unlikely to see again in our lives have been taken on some strange diagonal angles.
Anyway, our second night was spent near Petra at the amazing Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp. When I was researching the trip, we looked at lots of places to stay near Petra. Somehow I stumbled across this camp and thought “what a great experience for the kids” and what a way to experience the solitude and beauty of the area. I gently raised the concept with my lovely Hubby. Now, something it’s important to know about him, aside from the fact that he can be extremely tigh… ahem, fiscally responsible, is that he also LOVES his creature comforts. As does Miss Sparky – the first thing she asks when we stay somewhere is “how many stars does it have?” And young Chubs has been like a celebrity everywhere we go on this trip, possibly because he’s blond and ever so slightly cute – people literally swarm around him to take his photo. He’s even started striking poses and high fiving people. We’re waiting for him to start carrying a black marker with him so he can sign autographs or a hat so he can collect donations! So with these three precious types and lovely Ms T, who has officially declared that from now only she will only ‘glamp’, it was with some trepidation on my part that we headed out to our Bedouin camp for the night. I really had no idea what to expect and was praying that I wouldn’t have a revolt of silver spooners on my hands.
Our driver who brought us down from Amman courtesy of the wonderful RHVIP services picked us up at the gates of Petra and drove us out to the camp. On the way out, we were amazed at how many families there were out having picnics among the rocks in the fields surrounding Petra. I’m not kidding, there were literally hundreds of people in varying degrees of picnic setups, even some 4WDs up on the top of rock formations! We were a bit worried at first that they were here for pics of the Chubs, but soon realised that this is where people who live around Petra hang out on a Friday night. We saw the sign to our camp in the middle of a group of families after having to skid to an emergency stop after a random toddler started to wander onto the road. We were then a little worried that we would be camping out under the stars surrounded by hoards of picnicking families. Not really the solace we were seeking.
But finally, we arrived at the camp and were greeted by our lovely host and his menagerie. We stood chatting while he explained the facilities as a white horse galloped past us through the tents, chased by a couple of dogs and the odd cat meowing its way through the chaos. We followed him up to our family tent and laughed at the look on Lovely Hubby’s face as he poked his head through the door. There were 4 single beds lined up in a row that looked super snuggly with many blanket layers, and just enough space on the floor for a mattress for Chubs and our bags. Snug, cosy, comforting and warm. Miss Sparky was super excited we were all hanging out together and Ms T was impressed with the comfort of the beds and the fact that there were going to be hot showers and WIFI in the evening. Chubs of course headed straight off to find those dogs to chase around and it was then that I looked at lovely hubby. It was as though I could see the steam rising in his head as he pondered the situation.”Is this it?” was the first words, followed by a number of heavy sighs, plonking of bags on the ground and grumbles of “I’m going to be so hot under all these damn blankets.” After some soothing encouragement which began to deteriorate into stony silence and perhaps a moment of “what the hell is your problem” shrieks, followed by “aren’t I allowed to just be quiet for a moment?” retorts, we all headed down to the communal firepit area to hang out before dinner.
Once the roaring fire was going, everyone had enjoyed some warming Arabic tea and the amazing meal prepared by the camp guys, everyone was looking much happier. They were so accommodating and made sure we had everything we needed for the evening, even running to the nearest shops (about 15 mins drive each way) to pick us up a bath for the ‘baby’… it took a while to work out that when I had asked for a bed for him, they had heard bath and run off to get one, rather than simply telling me to harden up and chuck him in the shower! I felt so bad, but also super impressed that they would go to such lengths for the guests.
As we walked back to our tent it was like walking into some kind of magical fairyland. They have used solar fairy lights strung all over the rocks that surround the camp like a comforting hug, so make a night-time wonderland against the beautiful night sky. It is so very magical! Miss Sparky was so amazed by the scene, she forgot to be scared of the dark and navigated her way about the camp on her own to and from the shower – hottest shower I’ve had for a long time by the way!! Just fabulous.
We awoke to a stunning clear morning with the sun rising over the boulders and sat and enjoyed the immensely satisfying breakfast provided by the team whilst pondering the day ahead. There are some moments in life where you are truly just content – sitting in the warm, morning sunshine with a hot cup of tea, yummy food, surrounded by relaxed happy people refreshed after a solid, cosy nights sleep – pretty close to heaven I would think!
So it was with some sadness that we met our driver and headed off to explore some more of the countryside on our way to the Dead Sea. After some negotiating, we agreed to head back via the town of Madaba to see the ancient Mosaics, then via Mount Nebo to see where Moses died, and hopefully catch sight of Jerusalem before heading down pick up some local artwork and then go to the Sea for the night. Our driver was so lovely and pointed out a number of sights on the way – the 2000 year-old pistachio tree, the black Irises that only flower for one week a year. He also went to great lengths to ensure we didn’t get ripped off at any tourist stops. He explained that Queen Rania of Jordan supports a Foundation that employs people with disabilities to create the beautiful mosaic artwork Jordan is famous for. He advised us that these are some of the best pieces to buy as they are cheaper than the stuff in the tourist areas (which tickled hubby’s fancy) and the proceeds go to supporting the local artists. It was a win/win for us and we asked him to stop at the Foundation on the way.
We headed there via the Mosaic Church in the centre of Madaba which has one of the largest original mosaic maps left in the world of the ancient holy lands. It was very beautiful and worth seeing for us – little Chubs of course was not really feeling the history and spent the morning poking his fingers into powerpoints, rattling the metal poles protecting the mosaic and generally turning the, already very grey-haired caretaker a lovely shade of white. Miss Sparky was a little better and at least spent the morning taking strangely angled photographs of the artworks in the church and staring at pictures of Jesus – something she hasn’t really seen anywhere since we left Australia.
It was then off to Mount Nebo to see a bit of history. It’s such an interesting view from the top as you can see out over all of these lands that you have only read about in the Bible and history books. You can truly appreciate what life must have been like back then as the environment is quite harsh and the distances long! In fact, this is one fascinating thing about Jordan. You can be driving through a virtual wasteland of desert and sand and literally, within a couple of minutes, be traversing a beautiful lush valley of green. Truly some incredible scenery.
A quick stop at the Foundation – well, ok, a long, drawn out agonisation over art, carpets and bargaining. Chubs and Miss Sparky entertained themselves by playing in the corner and shoplifting bunny rabbits that say ‘I love Jordan’… (we later found out the lovely manager had donated them to assist with the kid’s boredom!) We walked away with some beautiful things that we will be able to keep and live with the comfort that they helped make someone’s life a little better.
I hate to say it, but I think there’s going to have to be an installment three for the Dead Sea. There’s just too much to tell to try to fit it in this story and I’m sure you’re probably ready for a breather. So I may have to say good evening, and look forward to sharing some more next time. For those of you looking at camping and exploring, I hope this has given you a little insight into the experience and I hope you love and embrace it as much as our whole family did. Such a beautiful place and such a tranquil, calming place to be if you can make it!
Please do post any questions or comments. I love to hear feedback on what you think and what you have found useful in these long-winded stories!
Miss Sparky specifically asked me to share a small piece of advice she has for everyone on this post as well so here goes – “Love who you are and don’t change for anyone!” Here here I say!!