Finally, after 3 1/2 years in Jordan, I went to Wadi Rum for an overnight. Jonathon has slept under the stars there on a class trip (and oh, the stars!), Nicholas has hiked through it, Becca did a Tropical Desert climbing trip through, Ian has skydived over it, but finally it was my turn (with all of them) to enjoy it.
We highly recommend Wadi Rum Green Desert Camp
for a simple overnight. We were met at the Wadi Rum Visitors' Center by the owner, Nadjah, and then followed Suleiman (with 2 of our kids) in the truck to the camp about 10-15 minutes into the desert. The camp is small with 5 small cabins and 2 family cabins. They are called tents but they're more like soft-sided cabins, really. The beds are cots with foam mattresses and head rests though the covers were soft. While I had no intention of using the blanket folded at the end of the bed it was so cold at night that we slept fully-clothed and I was glad I also brought blankets from home for each of us. The wind whipped through steadily, the lights needed to be screwed in to turn on, you get the idea.
They have a bathroom with running water and flushing toilets. For the truly brave, there is a shower stall. No lights actually in the stalls and the doors are solid and block out 98% of the "hall" light, so visits at any time of day or night are interesting. At one point during dinner Nicholas commented that he'd knocked off a scorpion from his leg which caused a minor rush to find it by our hosts, and it was actually something akin to a Middle Eastern earwig. Our host encouraged us by saying that all the mats had been shaken out that day, so no scorpions. I wonder if they shake out the bathrooms to be as certain there?
Wadi Rum is spectacular. The kids wanted to go out on 4X4s but they are forbidden inside the preserved area. Instead we enjoyed a ride in the back of the truck.
|Yes, we're all in the photo, look hard!|
So yeah. Wadi Rum, rockin'. See what I did there?
We had a couple nights at the Moevenpick in Tala Bay, Aqaba to wash off the Wadi Rum dust. In December of 2012 we stayed at this hotel and haven't been back since. The severe drop in tourism is evident everywhere in Jordan, yet this was the first time we really felt it. The Moevenpick name, like so many others, suggests a certain level of care.
- We'd asked for early check-in since we were arriving from Wadi Rum. Though we arrived at 11 a.m. our first room was ready at 1:30 p.m.
- Our second room was ready at 4:30 p.m., but only after getting a manager involved. The first person I asked said it was still with house-keeping.
- The deadlock bolts on both rooms were broken.
- The grout in the bathroom was less than stellar.
- The shower drain didn't drain properly, thank goodness there was a 2 inch step up.
- Our minibar (free!) was not refilled the second day.
- The other room minibar (free!) was never filled the first day.
- Though there were people with lifeguard shirts on, every lifeguard chair by pool and beach was empty.
- The towels were all frayed. Minor, but back to the name.
- Every pool was missing a large number of tiles, Nicholas got cut. Some tiles were found on the beach.
- The beach wasn't cleaned up as often as it should. As we were downstream from the public beaches, the off-beach SCUBA area had plastic bags and other garbage floating all through it.
- No pork products at the buffet. Seemingly minor, but if you lived here you'd get it.
- The SCUBA reservation that Ian made in February through the hotel website never made it to the SCUBA shop.
- Neither did the sunset boat ride.
- But a snorkeling trip we didn't reserve was booked for us. Figure that one out.
- The gear at the SCUBA shop was more than a little worn. Some pieces look like they'd been chewed on by sharks. The boots were more hole than boot.
- And worst of all, the bread rolls were hard and the muesli, the one thing Ian was really excited about, wasn't as good as he remembered.
But at the end of the day, the kids had fun. They did SCUBA. They did The Molecule (shown above). They went jet skiing. They swam in the pools. They skipped rocks into the Red Sea. The Molecule left them with rub rashes from flinging off left and right as the motorboat whipped them around. Everyone came home with some level of sunburn. Fun times.
The drive there and back was easy. Portions of the road were really bad, portions of the road were really good. There were only a few idiot truck drivers. What 18-wheeler decides to pass another one while going uphill? Oh, there are plenty. Drives are our time to listen to family favorites - Jonathan Coulton ("Still Alive" is one of the best songs out there), the Hamilton soundtrack (a new one for us), Bare Naked Ladies, and They Might Be Giants, of course. The DS games come out for road trips, and Becca's laptop showed The Hunger Games and Harry Potter. Whether we're flying or driving, four hours is barely a blip.
So we've done the family thing. Now we're back home and some kids are doing Spring Break things the rest of the week and others are traveling out of Jordan. I'll be at CPR class tomorrow. It's just how we roll.