To Jordan.

Originally booked to do a ferry across, the plan changed to instead hustle through Israel. Two hours to the Taba Gate, we went through the border – two scans and a long haul between them, not ideal with a bursting green NF bag – and then a 15 minute bus ride through to the border to Jordan (with another two scans and an even longer haul between, even more unideal with a bursting green NF bag).

Scan through to Israel I got stopped for a security check – the soap stone animals nestled at the base of my carry on proved a need to examine. I think again the entry to Jordan it set off the “check” alarm – this time the man just asked where I was from (at first I thought he said, “Welcome” and responded with a cheery, “Thank you!” and only realised when he repeated again) and when I said New Zealand, he just waved me through.

Goodness the Israeli people are beautiful. I’ve always thought Jesus being from the Middle East was depicted wrongly with his colouring as light skin and slightly more fair, but on seeing the people of the country in my quarter-of-an-hour there, I was surprised to see they are quite the same. Very, very stunning.

It was pretty cool; the guide on the bus through Eilat (part of Israel crossed) pointed out how if we looked across, we could see Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan in a 360 degree (as in angle, though the heat felt about the same in Celsius).

(An aside: my mind went through an explosion as I was in line and thinking about the word “passport”; such an apt appellation when you think about it – Pass (Through) Port(s)).

Our new guide Osama (keep getting confused and calling him “Samosa”) picked us up on the other side and we joined with our new group. It was great – Scott, one of our friends from the felucca, was on tour too. After a stop off to get money and snacks we headed to the desert (always need to double check using that word that I’m not double s-ing and making it pudding).

So, Wadi Rum. A protected desert wilderness in southern Jordan, it is home to some pretty dramatic sandstone mountains, rocky caverns and steep chasms – once upon a time, it was actually all underwater. The area has featured quite a lot in many mainstream movies – think Star Wars, Aladdin, The Martian.

Told we would be staying in tents, on arrival we found they were more like little canvas cabins, all along in a line. As we drove through the plains later and I saw the little huddled camps dotted about, they reminded me of a whole load of liquorice all sorts.

We all loaded up in Toyota trays (well, one group was in a Hilux) and went for a “Jeep” safari. Initially thinking we were on the look out for animals, we soon found it was actually about the insane cliffs and ancient graffiti carvings in them.

We did a sand dune climb and run down (immense amounts of sand all through my Chucks), drives along the bottom of all the ridges while Samosa – sorry, Osama – explained the formations of it all, then stopped at a wee camp of the Bedouin people where I bought two little trinkety jewelled side bags.

Back at our own camp we collected round a table for yarns, then five of us went and climbed a rock face for sunset. We eventually settled on one that we likened to Pride Rock and after some pics (always) we stopped to see the sun, um, set.

It was beautiful. Absolutely heart beatingly beautiful. The rays lit up behind the mountain it was setting behind, turning the surrounding sky glows of yellows and oranges and light reds (shepherd’s delight – question; does that apply worldwide?).

Back for dinner at camp (Osama showed us – and specifically mentioned – that the method of cooking is very similar to the hangi of New Zealand) then a bit of a dance with the locals (I had a bit of a dance off with a little boy who was giving me the thumbs up as he rocked out on the circle d-floor) then later, bed in our wee canvas cabin.

This is the travel I love. Sounds a bit snobby (well actually, more the opposite of snobby) but I much prefer the rudimentary dwellings and natural lands than the lux hotels and human created, um, creations. I came across a quote that really encompasses what I feel: “The human spirit needs places where nature has not been arranged by the hand of man”.

Already, I was in love with Jordan and so much more in infatuation with it than Egypt.

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