Running Barefoot on the Edge of the World (Arabic Adventure)

17 Jul

The last few weeks have been intense! The workload is increasing but that is to be expected from a program such as this. I have definitely seen a significant improvement in my comprehension of the modern and Colloquial forms of the Arabic language. I’ve had some great conversation opportunities and milestone moments with the language, and those always feel good.

We have had some incredible excursions in the past few weeks. On June 30th we went to an abandoned children’s center and spent a day with some of the most wonderful children ever. The men played soccer with the boys for a few hours while the women in the group spent time with the girls and helped them with arts and crafts. SOS Children’s Villages can be found in 133 countries (the umbrella organization being SOS Children’s Villages International) so if you ever find yourself in a foreign country look for their village and see how you can help. We had a blast spending time with these children and I will be going back there at some point during August.

Myself and 19 other individuals from the program made an independent excursion(outside of CIEE program) to a place called Wadi Rum(The Valley of the Moon) in Southern Jordan. This area is known for its sand dunes and mountainous terrain made of sandstone and granite. It was a fantastic site. We spent the night at the camp of the Zalabia Bedouins but before going to bed, some of us ventured out barefoot in the dark across the terrain a short distance from the camp and climbed up and over a major rock formation. We laid out on the rock for a few moments and silently gazed into a beautiful starry sky. Wow. On the back side of the rock formation we stumbled upon what appeared to be a giant, round Bedouin storage unit/sandstorm refuge. Just imagine wandering through a giant snail shell, only in the dark. In order to get there we had to run down a big sand hill and the after wandering through the “refuge” we ran back up the steep sand hill, which is harder than it looks.  So we ran across a desert terrain, rock climbed, star gazed, ran up and down steep sand hills and explored a Bedouin wind tunnel at 12:00am in the middle of a Jordanian desert. This was all done barefoot. Heck of a night.

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We woke the next morning and were given camel rides. Actually I think that this is the first time that I have ridden a camel. It’s not so bad! They are kind of fussy, nevertheless are very smart animals. During the Petra trip a few weeks ago the guide talked about how camels have a tendency to be somewhat conservative (meaning in eating, not politics). Travelers who have taken camels across deserts have noted that they will eat from small shrubs along the trail. They would eat only half of the shrub though, knowing that they could eat the other half of the shrubs during the return trip along the same trail. The guide compared this with the goats of the desert, that don’t really care and would just eat everything including the roots (stupid goats haha). So after a nice ride at sunrise and (after an hour of hearing the college girls savor the moment of singing music from Disney’s “Aladdin”, while riding camels), We hopped into the back of some Toyota pickups and were whizzed across the valley.

Ok so here’s the deal, in 1987 there was a conflict between Chad and Libya nicknamed the “Toyota wars” because the signature image was of 10+ combatants with machine guns piled into the back of Toyota land cruisers zooming across the Chadian desert. This is kind of what we looked like for a couple of hours minus the weapons. We stopped at some spots along the way and ventured through the sandstone valleys and ran up and down some more steep sandhills (which is a great exercise by the way) and at one point stopped in a valley once occupied by T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). Riding in the Toyotas across the desert was my favorite part because the driver would hit high speeds and at one point we were racing against the other vehicles.

After this we went to Aqaba, a city in southern Jordan situated along the Red Sea. We stayed at the beach and swam in the Red sea for a few hours. This part of the excursion was incredible, honestly, how many other places will you be able to see 4 countries (Jordan, Palestine, Egypt and Saudi Arabia) and 2 continents (Africa and Western Asia) at the same time? Heck of a weekend.  There are a lot of fun things to do in this country. What a fantastic region! The culture, the history…everything!

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2 Responses to “Running Barefoot on the Edge of the World (Arabic Adventure)”

  1. boileradmin July 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    Sounds amazing, but why barefoot?

    • William in the Middle East July 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

      The ground was cool and the sand felt really good.

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