Review Feynan Eco-Lodge in Wadi Rum, Jordan

A Little Immersion…Humanizing the Travel Experience

Our pickup truck bumped and jostled down the unpaved path, the driver weaving around the deep pits and pot-holes by rote, each piece of this desert clearly as familiar to him as the lines on his darkly tanned hands. For twenty-five minutes we plodded a slow path through stark and open plains, the raw and honest surrounding beauty of Jordan’s Dana Biosphere Reserve.

With a minimum of movements, our Bedouin driver gestured deep into the Feynan Valley and with squinted eyes I was able to make out a desert colored structure sitting at the base of the valley and blending in naturally with the miles of pale orange sands surrounding our truck.

manakish bread zaatar jordan

A Little Spice … Taste Buds and the Global Palate

As an American I get the best of many worlds in terms of food – we have a diverse immigrant culture in the United States and nearly every small town has its token ethnic restaurants: Thai/Indian/Mexian/Middle Eastern/Italian/Cuban. But flip side to those restaurants are the huge national chains perched alongside the mom-and-pop shops and often serving up run-of-the-mill generic dishes only barely seasoned to appeal to the masses.

For years I considered food a mere accessory to my day, a pretty little add-on, often just a mere necessity and rarely the focus. Then I left the US and tasted food.

A Little Inspiration…A Pastel Sunrise Over Wadi Rum

The gentle vibrations from my iPhone slowly cut last clingy strings of dreams from my thoughts as I pulled myself awake. Looking at the gaps in the tent wall showed just the faintest tint of color lightening the morning sky. The dead silence surrounding me at the Desert Tent Camp in Wadi Rum invited me to curl back into my heavy blanket and claim another hour of sleep – 5:00am seems barely human for a wake up call.

My iPhone was on to me though, and just as my eyelids drifted closed the phone’s insistent buzzing woke me again. Oh yeah, a sunrise camel ride.

The Dead Sea in Jordan

A Little Adventure… An Epically Muddy Day at the Dead Sea

Arriving at the Dead Sea in Jordan earlier this month, I wasn’t prepared for the starkness of the landscape. Conjured up images of the Dead Sea in my mind were of two varieties:

an exotic, remote, and barren desert landscape with an inhospitable lake of water stretching out for miles.
a smiling and slightly accented vendor in any one of America’s super-sized malls rubbing dark brown Dead Sea mud onto the back of my hand, extolling it’s many virtues.

Neither version prepped me for the actuality of the Dead Sea – the region’s bare landscape was the very element lending beauty. And as far are remote is concerned…not so much – it’s a mere 45 minute drive from Amman, Jordan’s capital, and surrounded by a handful of significant religious biblical and Islamic pilgrimage sites.

A Little Vignette…Finding the Cultural Norms in Jordan

Culture shock doesn’t have to be, well shocking, sometimes it’s more of a gentle adjustment. My recent trajectory took me from Thailand, where I lived for several months, to Jordan, a country I had never visited in a region I had also never visited.

A read through Jordan’s Wikipedia entry before I left Thailand yielded some new perspective and political understanding, as did a look at the internal Jordanian news sites and a read through the blogosphere. In short, I knew what to expect, but still had some fun encounters and adjustments I’d like to share – these moments, or vignettes if you would rather, were my firsts introductions into the Jordanian culture and I’d love for them to be yours too!

A Little Update… Twenty Questions, Jordan Style

Regular readers may recall my ever-so-brief plan to visit the Middle East last fall – it was a goal, an ambition really, because I’ve always wanted to travel to the Middle East but didn’t make it there on my RTW trip, nor my travels since.

Six months later, as I wrap up my time in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the Middle East still beckons. And as fortuity would have it, the Jordan Tourism Board invited me to spend nearly two weeks in the country as their guest. I couldn’t say no to that offer, so I head to Jordan this week.