Of silence and stars
Suggestions from Wadi Rum
Feeling tiny inside the silence of the night, in the presence of the firmament, is a moment. Imagine observing those bright dots that draw geometries with imaginative names, lying comfortably in a bed. The thought that recurs more than others is: are we really alone in the galaxy?
A night spent in the desert is an experience to do at least once. For us it is not the first, but the same thing happens every time: the mind seems to free itself of trappings and wanders free without restraint, imagining other worlds, with creatures that somewhere ask themselves the same questions that we ask ourselves.
Camp in the desert
The camp at night
The camp that hosts us this time is in Wadi Rum, the desert valley south of Jordan, loved by filmmakers for its lunar views. It is no coincidence that the local population also uses to call it Wadi al-qamar, a name that means Valley of the Moon. These windswept lands, bordered by the unmistakable contours of its granite mountains, have provided settings for several films: from Lawrence of Arabia back in 1962 to the most recent Transformer and Star Wars, with the Rogue One spin-off.
Whether you are fond of film sets or not, the beauty of this landscape will not escape you. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, fortunately, projects for the protection of its delicate habitat were started several years earlier, in order to protect it from the neglect of human action that is often not very conscious and careless.
To reach the various camps located in the desert (there are really a little too many), the local Bedouins drive pick-up jeeps with the rear body used for passenger transport. It is not very easy to get on, but this is also part of the experience.
The ride up to the field is bumpy and dusty but quite fun.
Our driver is called Ibrahim, he says he is eighteen, but he looks fifteen. Before leaving the cluster of houses that serve as the gateway to the desert, he stops to buy us some water. He is working for his tip but is not intrusive. He knows few words of English, but has an extraordinarily white and equally loving smile. We understand each other by gestures and that's all it takes.
The camp, despite the high-sounding name (Wadi Rum night luxury camp), cannot be defined as luxurious, in the etymological sense of the term.
We are in the desert, of course, you can't expect too much, but we have still experienced better fields than this, in other deserts. I'm talking purely about attention to detail and opulence, because what remains luxurious in this context, perhaps even more in keeping with the roughness of the surrounding environment, is experience.
Sleeping under the stars, in a bubble made transparent towards the celestial vault is something difficult to describe.
I could tell you how difficult it is to fall asleep due to the constant desire to sweep your eyes left and right, in search of yet another shooting star.
I could tell you how, once you are asleep, something prompts you to reopen your eyes to surprise yourself again and again, until the first light of dawn that gives color to the shapes.
I would always be far from telling you everything.
The bubbles, for those who ask, have a personal bathroom with shower, the bed is a real bed, not a camping mat, and there is even air conditioning, because here in Wadi Rum, at night, the temperatures remain quite mild.
We dine in the common tent, an experience, for us, quite disappointing but it was really a detail, because what remains in the mind is something else.
They are shoes full of sand, almost a metaphor of the desert that enters you; are the colors that change based on where you look, based on the time of day; they are rocky shapes that you would never stop photographing, it is the waiting for the sunset sitting on a surprisingly cold sand, silent but somehow connected; are the traces of ancient humanity that inhabited these lands well before the Anno Domini: the ingenious Nabataeans, who built their capital in the extraordinary Petra.
Everywhere there is suggestion, which helps to make us feel witnesses of the passage of a superior design.
You will love it!
Have a good trip!
(The desert experience is an integral part of a more comprehensive tour provided by the Jordanian operator Trip500, whom we thank for organizing.)
Inside the bubble tent
We on the rocky arch
Waiting for the sunset