Kojak, who drove me to Jerash, was going on a ride to Petra already, so I joined him on the drive. Given that a bus would have cost 9 JD anyway, it was worth it to go with him for only 10 JD. So, we set off by 6 AM, with a couple of other people from the hostel.
I was hoping that he would stop at Dana or some other local place on the way, but he explained that he had to be at Petra by 9 AM for some work, so he wont be stopping anywhere. That wouldn’t have been so bad, had it not been for the 2 noisy American teenagers behind me who kept insisting that it was the party bus. And I had to keep reminding them that this was the 6 AM bus. I must be getting old!
Around 9, we reached the Rocky mountain hostel in Wadi Musa, which was about 5 minutes away from Petra, and where everyone else in the bus was alighting. I alighted there too, but I wasn’t staying in the hostel. I was to couchsurf with a Bedouin in Ammarin village, in Little Petra. Luckily, my host Nawwaf was rather popular among the Bedouins and the people at the hostel gave me instructions for how to get to his place. They also helped me to flag down a taxi to get there, for about 5 JD.
At Ammarin village, we again had no problems in finding the house of Nawwaf whom everybody seemed to know. Turns out that Nawwaf was a popular Bedouin tourguide in Petra. Now, conventional CS ethics will tell you that this means danger, because the host may try to commercialise your stay with him. But with Nawwaf, I found that he was genuinely hospitable, and did not try to sell any of his tour packages to me. The only time that I wanted to go to the dead sea after a couple of days, he told me that he can take me there at the regular tourguide price. This was perfectly acceptable for me.
Also, Nawwaf was hosting another couchsurfer at the same time, called Gabriel from Mexico. Well, he could, because his place was large and could easily host 5 more people. There were thick Bedouin carpets all over the place, and Nawwaf also maintained his house in a very carefree, almost slightly messy way. I felt at home immediately!!
Meeting Gabriel also turned out to be a bonus, because he was heading to see Petra too, and I had company now. We made a good ‘picture’ team during the day, because selfies are overrated. I am not writing about our visit to Petra now, because it would be injustice not to give it a full separate post.
After finishing our tour of Petra at 5 PM, we stepped out to look for a place to eat cheap, since everything inside Petra is priced so steep that it can blow up a hole in your wallet and further. But just as we stepped outside the Petra complex, our host was there waiting for us with his truck. We asked him, where we can eat cheap. And he said, in the cave!
That turned out to be no joke. He told us to get on board the truck, we went home to pick some necessities and some meat. And then proceeded to his own Bedouin cave, deep inside the Wadi Arabia desert. Well, technically his cousin’s cave, but they share it all the time. In Little Petra, everybody is somebody else’s cousin anyway!
And true enough, when we reached the cave site in pitch dark, there were 2 of his cousins already there, along with 2 other Swiss travellers who were travelling through Jordan. They were setting up the tea, and we joined in. Soon, alcohol was available. Now, Jordan may invoke ideas of a very Islamic country, but when you are under sub-zero temperatures at night, I think a little bit of alcohol is ok to warm you down. And moreover, this was local Arak, which was colorless, but when mixed with water, became milky white, similar to the Raki of Turkey. It tasted like acid, but my host and the others were having it pretty liberally because of the cold. I wasn’t so worried about a moonshine-related issue the next day, but I could not take more than 1 glass because of the taste.
After countless Bedouin jokes (Why does the Bedouin not kiss his wife during sex? Her face reminded him of his camel!), we were joined by 1 more cousin, his European wife, and 2 other Belgian travellers. We proceeded to eat grilled chicken, with local hummus and Qubbuz bread. And the stories kept pouring forth, about Bedouin life, and jokes about how the Syrians made the perfect hummus, while Egyptians can’t make a proper hummus even if their life depended on it.
Around 11.30, we finally decided to get some sleep. I took a brave decision of sleeping outside the cave, after I was assured that scorpions and snakes don’t come out in this harsh winter. And boy, sleeping under an entire galaxy of stars, high up on a mountain in Wadi Arabia, is an experience like no other. It was cold, but I covered myself with some heavy-duty blanket which weighed 2 kilos easily. And slept like a baby. The only sound of the night was the Bedouins snoring, but it was sweet music for a night under the stars.