Married to a Bedouin

Petra streets and tombs jordan by eva the dragon 2013

Leaving the Treasury behind, we followed a young, Jordanian couple.  Wearing city attire, they looked like tourists, not Bedouin.

I assumed they were newly-married since the man could not stop taking pictures of the young woman wearing hijab.  At the amphitheater, we caught up with them.  They asked us to take their photo together, and we did, insisting that they do all sorts of fun poses.

Across the street, I recognized the stall selling Marguerite’s book,  Married to a Bedouin.  A little higher than the road, it sat next to the WCs carved out of the red cliff.

Marguerite lived in Petra with her husband, Mohammed Abdallah Othman for twenty-four years.  After his death in 2002, she returned to Sydney where her family lived.  At the end of her book, she wrote,

I might go back and see if I can find a Petra I can live in without Mohammed…..Without Mohammed to hold me I am no longer married to a Bedouin and, despite all the things we have accumulated, I have become a nomad once again.

I pointed out the stall.  There, dressed in western clothes, was Marguerite!

We rushed towards her, gushing.

“We met you in Dubai.”

“We loved your presentation.”

“I’ve been reading your book.”

“What are you doing here?  Where are your children?”

“Where was your cave?”

When Marguerite smiled her gold tooth, a present from her father-in-law, gleamed.

Time healed her broken heart, and, once again, she found herself living with the Bdouls near Petra.  Her children were grown with families of their own.  No longer a nurse, she was a published author and “doing something fun” – creating jewelry.  Inspired by the Nabataen carvings, local women smithed the silver jewelry.  The Amarat Jewelry Workshop helped support eleven families.

As much as we wanted to talk, Marguerite was busy.  She only had seconds to entice the dusty, hot tourists walking by to either purchase a book or some earrings.  As we stood there, a Mexican, then a Greek tour group huddled around her stall as she said a few words to them in their own language.

Happy to support a fellow adventurer, mother and writer, I purchased a charm – the out-lawed goddess, al-Uzza.

al uzza by amarat jewelry

Al-Uzza, “The Powerful One”, was part of the original, Arabian goddess triade.  Some archaeologists say she was the Nabataen equivalent to Aphrodite, but, according to Barbara Walker, she  was older than that.   Marguerite strung my Uzza on a black, braided cord.

When you go to Petra you will find either Marguerite or her handsome son tending the shop.  Like the other vendors, at night, they shuttered their stand and, guarded by The Powerful One, everything stays where they left it.

To be continued….

On to Aqaba

On to Aqaba south on the desert highway

Inspired by Peter O’Toole’s portrayal of Lawrence of Arabia, “On to Aqaba” became our cry as we headed south on the Desert Highway.

WAdi rum rest house v2

After parking our SUV at the Wadi Rum Village Rest House, a young Arab pulled up behind us.

“Mohammed Mutlak camp?” he inquired.  “Welcome,” he said pointing to the back of his Toyota pick-up.  “Please get in.”

The padded seats did not look too comfortable to me.

“Why don’t I drive my car,” I suggested.

Abdullah shrugged, “If you want but you will miss breathing the fresh desert air.”  He waved his hand in the air.

“I think I should drive,” I told my waiting friends.

“Thelma,” my friend counseled, “They do this all the time.”

I relented, and we hefted our luggage into the back of the truck.

As Abdullah sped through the deep, red sand, our hair was mussed.  Our noses were filled with pink dust.  Dogs chased us.  Our teeth rattled.  Still, it was better that I had not attempted to drive.

We officially arrived at our camp just before the sun set.  We had enough time to do some yoga before cracking open a bottle of white wine and toasting our driver and our lovely camp.

To be continued……

ABOUT MOHAMMED MUTLAK CAMP

Mohammed Mutlak Camp is found in the southern-most tip of Wadi Rum.  It is a lovely camp.  You can contact them via email or call Mohammed directly at 00 962 7 7721 5675.  My review is on TripAdvisor.

ABOUT ARRIVING IN WADI RUM

Driving south on the Desert Highway, just past the town Ar-Rashdiyya, (past Ma’an) there is a big petrol station on the left.  You pass it and the road to Wadi Rum, then make a U-turn.  You turn right (east) onto the Rum road.  It is about 12 kilometers to the Wadi Rum Visitor Center.

There you will be greeted by a hoard of young Arab men offering taxi rides or camps.  If you have made reservations, one of them will announce himself as the Mohammed Mutlak representative.  You pay him the entrance fee to the reserve.  20JD for a four-wheel drive and 5JD per person.  Do not despair, there does not appear to be any “official” manning the ticket counter at the center.  Wadi Rum is run by the Bedouin.  They all know each other.

He will direct you to drive to the Wadi Rum village and to park at the Wadi Rum Rest House.  There someone else will pick you up.

ABOUT WINE IN JORDAN

Jordanians grew grapes and make wine.  However, the only places I have noticed wine or alcohol for sale is at the airport or in higher-end hotels.  We bought our own bottles at Bahrain Duty Free and carried them on the plane, car and camel as we traveled.

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