Laura Finaldi in Jordan, 2012

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Conquering an ancient wonder of the world and other things that were awesome

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I honestly don’t even know where to begin. What was the best? Sequential order?

We left SIT at 7:30 a.m. on Monday and headed straight for Al-Karak, an ancient castle. Helen and I climbed around and took pictures of everything. That was cool. (disclaimer: we’re calling Hillary “Helen” now, just go with it). Afterwards, we headed to the Dana Nature Reserve, where we’d be spending the night. I had no idea what to expect. Nature reserve just sounds boring. I’m more of a city gal myself. But when our packed tractor rounded about this amazing camp site, I was in nothing short of awe.

Our tents. So awesome.

The tents were small and cozy and very well-insulated. There were also lots of rocks to climb, lots of cushions to sit on, tea to drink, and cigarettes to smoke. It was great just to chill out with everyone and play in the sand. I haven’t felt that relaxed in a really long time.

We woke up the next morning bright and early so we could make moves to Petra. That’s right, Petra. The ancient city, once home to the ancient Nabataeans. The amazing thing about Petra is how even though it’s thousands of years old, it’s still preserved so incredibly well. Helen and I opted to pay 25 JD each to ride horses to the top of a cliff, via the “Indiana Jones” trail. It was so cool. Those horses are badass–my little guy definitely got tired after a little bit.

Anyway, the view from the top is incredible. But I’ll let it speak for itself.

PETRA.

One of the seven wonders of the world. Can’t believe I’ve been there.

So the first two days were pretty cool. Dana was really peaceful, and Petra was really beautiful. But little did I know the best was yet to come.

When you look at photos of Wadi Rum, they all kind of look photoshopped. It seems impossible that anything could actually look like that. But it does. Here’s a raw photo I took of the sunset at night.

But that wasn’t even the best part of the day. The BEST part was our Jeep tour, where we went ripping through the desert on the backs of a bunch of different Jeeps! It was freaking incredible. I stood up the whole time and blocked Sam’s view.

Gina, Eric, and Josh (in the dash) looking like a bunch of warriors. Bri looking happy and gleeful as always.

We made several stops along the tour, one of which included climbing massive rocks!! We had to walk up a sandy, steep hill (I guess it was a hill) to climb all the way to the top. That was really cool. Only Helen made it to the top though (naturally).

Queen Helen of Wadi Rum.

When we had to leave Wadi Rum, I found myself itching for an extra day or two. It was so peaceful, so calming, so romaaantic I could have stayed there forever. We even pulled mattresses out of the tents to practice our Hiatus (see previous post for deeper explanation). And we slept under the stars at night. So epic.

In the morning, we had our camel ride. That’s right, I rode a damn camel. I wish I had a picture–they’re on others’ cameras. For now, here’s one of Melissa.

After we got off the camels, we took off for Aqaba, an international port where you can see Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, all from the same place. Ah, Aqaba. Arguably my favorite part of the trip, for many reasons.

First, the hotel made me feel like I was in a 1970s horror movie. The showers were tiny and the water spilled over out of the tub–so cool. Also, there were ashtrays in the room–it was a smoking room. Fuck. Yes. We were so excited it was unbelievable. I took a few artsy photos of Clare looking out the window and smoking like a boss. Aren’t we awesome? Yes, yes we are.

Clare Coughlan, certified badass.

After the initial excitement set in, we took off for a boat cruise. YES. It was so epic. Sam and Ian joined us J kids on our boat. We got to snorkel around a coral reef, which was epic. We had a delicious lunch and all took turns jumping off the top of the boat.

View of Jordan from the boat

Christina, Jess and Sam on the boat.

So amazing.

Here’s something I wrote on the bus yesterday, on our way back

We’ve been on a bus for a little over four hours, with a stop for lunch at a Turkish restaurant at a gas station (I know, Jordan is weird). Helen and I have been making great progress on Operation: Eat Everything since we boarded the bus at 11 this morning. I keep looking out the window with my headphones in and I start thinking about stuff. How I’ve been here for so long and I’ve become so used to it and now we’re so close to leaving. One week from today, Mom and I will be in Ireland, with nothing to worry about but the potato famine (too soon?) Just kidding. But really. I can’t believe our week of excursions is over –that I’ve seen Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba–and now it’s back to work for five days until that early morning when we board our flight to Heathrow and leave everything we’ve known in Amman behind. Our lives. We have lives here. We have families here. We’ve become regulars at local spots, made friends, seen the way the locals live, jumped through loopholes to get around in this country. I can’t believe it’s almost over. Two weeks ago when I was frustrated with the lack of places to go out in Amman I would have told you no way, this place isn’t home. But that’s the weird thing about places becoming your home–you don’t really have a choice. It just happens. I love Amman, I love Jordan, and I love all the people I’ve met on this trip and in this country. I’m so stoked to come back here in a couple of years and show people I know from home around. This has been an experience like no other.
I think about who I was a month ago. May 7. I was still working at Conor’s, still living at 228. No expectations about this trip, no thoughts really about what it would be like beyond the plane ride. One thing at a time. But here I am, so far into this trip, and I will never be the same.

#WadiRumHiatus. Not a big deal. Weeeee!!

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Written by laurafinaldi

June 9, 2012 at 6:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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