As a cold desert wind swept through our camp, hundreds of little fire sparks jumped into the air, performing a swirling dance of light against the dark night sky. I was enraptured by it for a moment and time seemed to stand still as the red sands of Wadi Rum settled around me.
“Would you like some more tea?” Mohammed asked, as he lifted the blackened pot from the flames. I nodded eagerly, marvelling at how he expertly poured the tea from an alarming height and it cascaded perfectly into my small glass cup below. It was warm and sweet and minty, a perfect contrast to the crisp air around us.
“I grew up in this desert,” said Mohammed. “I know every rock and pathway and I know where the sand blows. My father and I used to take herds of camels into Saudi Arabia. It would take us months to cross the desert and we would sleep outside and hunt along the way. Those were my favourite times. It is so quiet in the desert, so peaceful, and everything we need is here. Life is simple.”
We had been talking for a while, Mohammed and I, sharing our spot by the fire. He was a young Bedouin tour-guide, caretaker of this small eco-camp, and we had spent the day in the back of an old Land Cruiser, exploring the exotic lands of Wadi Rum – the Valley of the Moon.
There is no question about how the land got its name. As a large valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock in southern Jordan, Wadi Rum is otherworldly; great expanses of red sand stretching around and between stark mountains, lone camels wandering in the distance, ancient inscriptions telling the tales of civilisations long forgotten, and bursts of life where it otherwise seemed impossible. We spent the day surfing down sand dunes, climbing to the highest peaks of rocky outcrops and watching the sun set over the expansive horizon.
Mohammed was right, there was a magical simplicity to being in the desert. Somehow life felt calmer, the air was fresh and there was space to think, and there were no distractions from the important things in life. All that seemed to matter were stories, shared in broken languages that echoed the truths of life, and told beneath the starry night sky over cups of steaming sweet tea.
If you are travelling to Jordan, I would highly recommend booking a trip through Petra Night Tours – they offer a range of interesting adventures through a truly beautiful country.