Wadi Rum – the 3rd

Suddenly it was quiet, but then Ihintza and Elisa showed up with a plan of going to Wadi Rum. Since I didn’t have plans I joined them. Thanks for having me.

It was a super funny road trip, with lots of laughter and exploring Wadi Rum besides climbing. They knew the owner of the “Martian desert camp” and so we had the chance to go on a tour through the desert. While stopping at typical touristic sites we also had fun driving the dunes and drifting in the desert sand.

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good byes

For me it was super strange to start saying good bye to everyone knowing I would stay for another month. I almost got scared I would feel alone, but since it was in so many steps, it wasn’t that hard.

There were good bye parties and good bye dinners and last days at the university, but I will show you those in pictures:

(if anyone does not agree with his*her picture, please let me know and I will remove it!)

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Graduation day

… and as suddenly as we had reached back to the camp, the semester was over.

Of course we had to finish all our courses and exams but being busy studying, exploring the country and already saying good bye to some new dear friends made the time pass by super quickly.

Graduation day was June 18th 2019. Henna and me had been to the graduation of the group before so we thought we knew what to expect. Well it was different they had prepared robes and graduation hats for us. So when we put them on we felt super fancy and important. I had to think of my graduation in architecture after studying 8 years: it wasn’t even close to being this – I have to say it again – fancy.

So then we sats down and the ceremony started: all the important people spoke and our professor made a review of the last semester. Then we all had to come forward to receive our certificate – I was super gigglish (I don’t know if that’s a word, but it describes best how I felt).

After we all had our certificates, there was a small buffet where we could chat and say good bye to our professors. We took a group photo – or better a thousand group photos.

Then we went to Henna’s place because she had to pack her stuff, after we had all her things together we went to a cafe to finish the evening nicely. In the end we all dropped her at the airport – saying the first good byes.

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Wadi Ghuweir

A kind of unexpectecd adventure…

Henna said she really wanted to to Wadi Ghuweir all the way. So we decided to do it. Then talking to a friend, he and another friend joined. So the six of us started our hike in Feynan. Ali and Mustafa picked us up and we drove to the Feynan Camp, where we were welcomed warmly and had (of course) some tea.

And then we took off, we hiked into Wadi Ghuweir but before it narrows down, we stopped to have a break. We had some bread and hummus. And then we turned left, and hiked above another wadi, heading towards a “hot spring”, it was fascinating: we walked on super dry land with gravel and below us where the water ran, there was a super intense green. When we reached the spring we had another break, it was super hot so we had hind of a siesta. Ali and our friend buried themselves in the sand after taking a bath in the spring (apparently that’s super healthy for the skin – who knows). Then we moved on, a little higher on the cliff, we had a tea break and then we climbed up to the plateau where we were to sleep. The sun was already setting and the colors painted on the brown sand stones were out of this world.

When we reached we put up our camp and i started cooking, I had prepared a sauce and we made noodles. It was kind of funny and strange, I guess our Jordanian friends never had a dinner like this on a hike. Then we did some stargazing, Ali has a huge knowledge about the stars and told us how to orientate and a lot about the star constellations. Then we went to bed, just under those stars.

The next morning, Mustafa had already prepared tea and coffee. A shepherd passed by and the exchanged news while he joined us for a cup of tea. After breakfast we packed our things and started down into Wadi Ghuweir.

To reached we had to climb down some really strange paths and wondering how they knew where to go they showed me some stone pillars and told me, where-ever you can find them you know you can go. But go is exaggerated, we had to climb!

Soon after we reached down, we found the hanging stone. It’s a huge stone jammed between the cliffs. It’s pretty impressive. Then walking through the narrow canyon, we enjoyed the cool air, while fussing around. When we reached the hanging gardens we stood quiet and amazed, date palms crossing the whole canyon and green grass all over the walls. No surprise this is considered one of the most beautiful canyons of Jordan. Also there was a pool we happily jumped into to cool down (it was really cold!)

Then we hiked back towards the camp, stopping at the waterfall to take another shower and chatting about all the world. And suddenly we were back. Mustafa dropped us at the car and off we went back to Amman!

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Aqaba – Tala Bay – Gallery

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Aqaba – Tala Bay

Well I know now why I didn’t go to Aqaba before: Because I would not have been able to focus on my studies. It’s paradise. Even if it’s a very hot paradise, but I was so happy to swim again, and then also snorkel, and scuba and freedive.

Henna and me decided that we deserved a holiday after our Arabic final, so we arranged a JETT bus to go to Aqaba and then searched for hotels. Since Möwenpick was too expensive we decided to stick with “Beduine Moon Village”. When we arrived we realised that we had reached the diving hot spot. I was happy. All four Hotels we had looked (knowing we wanted to dive) at were accumulated side by side. Before dinner we went down to the beach to enjoy the sunset, and jump into the Sea. We still could see a little bit of the reef, which made me really exited for the next day. Then we had dinner in our hotel, being the only guests we enjoyed the quietness of Ramadan. Then we went for a walk back down to the beach. It was really nice, several families sitting together and enjoying the night, knowing that the next day was off. Then we met Hussein, trying to buy ice-cream, since we just had been asked for way too much money at one store, we were a little bit tense. And when he also asked for a high price, I was super annoyed. So he have us a discount, saying that he didn’t want me to think he was asking for too much because we were tourists. So we got to chat a little bit and he offered to take us for a snorkel tour the next morning, to which we happily agreed.

The next morning after breakfast, we tried to book our scuba dive. But everyone was still asleep. So we decided to meet Hussein first and then come back to see if we could arrange a dive. When we reached the beach it was easy to find Hussein and soon we had fins and goggles on and swam above the coral reefs into the Sea. He showed us around and pointed out different corals and fish. And then we saw a turtle. I couldn’t resist and dived down to meet her. It was still a baby – having a length of about 40cm – Hussein said, the really big one was almost 1,5m long. But we didn’t see this one. After about one hour and a half we left the water, to go back and check if we could find a the diving shop open.

So amazing! I can’t believe how lucky I am!

We were lucky and agreed with them to leave after one hour. We used the hour to relax at our pool. And then got ready, putting a wetsuit on and hopping on the car which was about to take us to the rainbow reef. Since it was Henna’s first dive we went through all the instructions – which was good for me to have repeated since I only had done my brevet* last summer and didn’t scuba afterwards. And off we went into the water once more. Our two buddies – guess their names!? Yes, exactly Hussein and Hussein! – checked if we were fine with watering our mask and all. Then my buddy took me out of the reef, and when we turned around Henna and her Buddy had gone. But she seemed super relaxed and to enjoy it. So I just went around with my Buddy playing with some fish, floating around under the water. It was over way too soon.

dive sites in Aqaba

I was happy having scuba dived again. But I was also super eager to go freediving again. I was kind of angry with myself that I had continuously forgotten to check my messages. I had contacted the “Jordan freedivers” group on facebook already in February. They were super nice and very helpful. So when we had decided to finally go to Aqaba I had sent them a message. But I kept on forgetting until the next morning. More about that later.

Back at the hotel we took some time to relax and invited our buddies to coffee. We read and chilled until I was too eager to go snorkeling again. So we went back to the beach. And snorkeled along the bay, starting from the Japanese Gardens, passing by Gorgon 1+2 almost until the tank, we just returned a little bit too early, but it was already getting dark. On our way back we met Hussein again, who was out with a group before and we decided to have dinner with him. So we sat at his stall enjoying the sunset and watching the people passing by. At 10pm we decided to return to our room to get some sleep. Then we realised we still had an open invitation from our scuba Hussein, so we went to meet him and of course had to drink some tea with him, chatting about languages and cultures of people who come to scuba in Aqaba. At 11pm we finally made it to our room and went to bed tiredly after a quick shower.

The next morning, we had to organise our JETT ticket back to Amman, which turned out to be super complicated: Knowing that online reservations don’t guarantee a seat – after Toms experience – we refused to book online, but over the phone it was impossible because they wanted our IDs. So finally we hopped on a car to Aqaba City to buy the tickets at the office directly. Hussein came with us because he really wanted us to buy some raisins, which he said were super healthy. So going with him we also go a quick tour through Aqaba City: after a mission to find the raisins, stopping at a bakery, being handed different kinds of cookies and passing by his parents house – who were all still asleep.

Then we returned and I finally managed to remember to check my messages on facebook where I saw that Abod was at Tala Bay ready to freedive. My heart jumped with joy and after quickly finishing the breakfast and packing, we went down to the beach where I found him immediately. We decided to go to the plane and the tank, while Henna stayed at the beach to relax and read. I realised that I hadn’t trained breathing enough and that I hadn’t gone for proper freedive for more than half a year. Now being with someone I didn’t know at all and who was a PADI certified freediver – a different kind of certificate than I have (Aida**), I got nervous. But I remembered all the breathing techniques and calmed myself down. When we reached the ship I had to calm myself again, the water was so clear and it seemed to be really far away. And then Abod told me to do the first dive. So I started my breathing session. And then duck dive going all the way down to the ship on the first go. It was amazing, I was chuckling with joy – filling my goggles with water. But I cleared them right away. Emerging again, I could feel the relief and happiness of not having forgotten how to dive and being one with the water finally again. We did several dives at the shipwreck and then continued to the tank, which was super easy being down at about 5m. But still a challenge, because I didn’t have any equipment (no good fins, no weight and no wetsuit). Especially being so shallow I could feel the buoyancy. After about one hour we had to leave, so Henna and me would catch our bus.

Then everything went really smooth: We picked Henna up from the beach, said goodbye to Hussein, checked out at our hotel, spent a nice ride with Abod to Aqaba – Thanks for taking us once more. And reached way too early at the JETT office so we could go to the Möwenpick for some ice cream. And then straight into the bus, which brought us back to Amman on time so we could join the iftar of our cohort at Elisa’s and Ihintza’s place.

All in all perfect weekend to celebrate our Arabic final. (More exams to come next week – but first we’ll have off for Eid! =) )

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Wadi Shqeifat – Gallery

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Wadi Shqeifat

That was a great surprise!

After my water modus was switched on I was super happy to be asked if I wanted to join a canyoning tour. The video of the Wadi seemed amazing and so I was eager to join right away. In Jordan many companies offering adventure sport have developed. So you’ll find an offer for almost everything. Starting with running groups, biking groups also offering biking trips, so hiking agencies (uncountable) and also Canyoning. Our friend Khaled somehow knew them and organised our tour with them.

We started in the morning at 8:00 half an hour delayed (Jordanian style). And then we got another 30 minutes delayed because our breakfast package was not ready, when we wanted to pick it up. So we arrived at a very beautiful look out at 10:00 to have breakfast. We tried to be quick knowing that it was getting hotter and hotter and that we had to hike to reach the Wadi.

So when we finally arrived, the ones who wanted to life-jackets and all got helmets and harness. And off we went. Through a beautiful farm growing eggplant and melons, up a mountain without shade in the heat. Luckily when we reached the top there was a pool and all of us happily jumped into it to cool down. (It was pretty cold!) And then we moved on. We had to scramble a little bit and then the first part to repell was reached. We got a quick introduction on how to do it and off we went down 30 meters. Down were two guides securing us – blocking the rope if needed or to take funny pictures – and up was another one. Fixing the gear before we started. It took quite a while until all of us were down. And when our guide reached he was shocked that all the water had gone. It had been a lot higher the week before. Well it’s no surprise with 42C that it’s evaporating.

The second route was even longer, about 43 meters they said. Ending with a jump into cool water. What a relief! The surrounding was beautiful, with a lot of birds and flowers and the Canyon covering us from the heat. So it was a good spot to sit and watch the whole crew coming down one by one. And suddenly it was over again. There was a spot where we were supposed to swim but apparently it was too dry already so we scrambled back to our bus.

Arriving there we all drank enormous amounts of water, and off we went to stop somewhere on the road to get Beduine food. Which we were supposed to eat at a “very beautiful spot” but since we were late to return to Amman, we had it served in the bus. I was super lucky because the bus almost passed my place and so I got home quickly. Happy to relax and take an evening off.

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Wadi Mujib – Gallery

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Wadi Mujib

Since we went to Wadi Mujib two weeks ago I’m back in my element: water. It was the best feeling to swim and enjoy in Wadi Mujib. Combined with a little bit on climbing it was a perfect mix for a hot day. Wadi Mujib is a Canyon or Siq filled with water which you can hike/ swim up until a water fall. There is no guide needed for the main path. But you can also go with a guide to enjoy more advanced routes.

Getting there was a bit of a challenge: We wanted to go with the public bus from the south station which is going to a city at the southern end of the Dead Sea, so it’s passing by Wadi Mujib. But because it was a Friday in Ramadan, they didn’t have enough passengers for the bus so they cancelled it. So we spent almost 1 1/2 hours at the south bus station trying to find a possibility which was not 10 times more expensive than the bus would have been. It was one of those annoying moments when the taxi drivers know that you want to go somewhere and you don’t have another option so they wanted 120 JODs for two cars coming and going. Then we found another one who told us 20 / car coming and going. When confirming before getting into the car suddenly it was only one way. Luckily a Jordanian friend was with us who started to scan the whole bus station for better options. Finally after I think even more than one and a half hours we had two cars for 12 JOD in one direction. But it was a price we payed: He drove like crazy. So we were really happy to arrive safely to Wadi Mujib and turned down his offer to wait and take us back.

Then Wadi Mujib was so exiting that we go our thoughts quickly off the crazy drive. Most of the time the canyon is really narrow creating something like a roof above your head. This makes it perfect for hot days, especially since the water is always cool – I think. There are some tricky parts and we met people on the way who had stopped and decided not to continue because they thought it was too risky. And for Austrian standards it definitely is. The most dangerous parts are secured with ropes so the water won’t flush you down a cliff, but there are some currents you have to pass just holding onto a rope. Which would be fine if people kept a safety distance, but they don’t or they underestimate the current because they go too far, loose grip and suddenly hit the person ahead of them in the back.

So now this might sound worse than it is, but I think people should be prepared if they are going to visit Mujib. So my recommendation is to go really early when there are not so many people yet. And also nothing happened! While we really had a lot of fun climbing, playing with the currents, jumping down the small water falls and in the end floating back towards the exit. But have a look at the pictures, I think they can tell more then me writing.

Going back was way more comfortable because Mohammed somehow found a guys who was working for one of the Dead Sea Hotels who drove us back to Amman in a Van. Back in Amman we went to Shams el Balad for a late lunch together.

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