hiking-to-the-stars

Pilgrim in Jordan – Hiking to the Stars

I wanted to cut this post short, but I didn’t want to run on forever with my accounts of the trip to Jordan. So bare with me a little and read the following in chunks. If you’re not interested, here’s a summary: It was a beautiful journey of pshysical and spiritual endurance, and from it I knew that nothing can stop me from fulfilling anything I desire if I put my mind and soul into it – and have the amazing social support I had. You can also check out the photo album >>here<<.

The last day of my pilgrimage without a doubt contained the most memorable series of events that I have experienced in recent years. It was the challenge of the body, mind and soul – the exact one I have been pursuing in my recent pressured times.

We headed out to Petra before the dawn with roughly a couple of hours’ sleep. The trip itself was relaxing, if a bit long. While I was a bit aggravated with the obnoxious speeding limits on highways (I travel twice as fast inside Dubai), it was a great opportunity to take things in slowly and simply sit back and enjoy the sunrise and the changing scenery. I needed the change of pace.

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We arrived at Petra with a huge amount of tourists. I wasn’t surprised but a bit disappointed (there were just too many people) but that soon brushed off as we started treading the paths between the sheer mountains (the Siq). I was astonished at first that there were no Japanese tourists but no sooner than I updated my Facebook status (so that the guys back home can constantly know Qabbani hasn’t kidnapped and sold me on the black market) and out of no where, a few Japanese tourists were pointing everywhere and oh!-ing.

You gotta love them :)

The road went on and on, and we occasionally stopped here and there to take photos of ourselves, of rocks, and of other people taking pictures of themselves and of rocks.

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We arrived at the magnificent Treasury. I was astonished at the wonderful piece of carved art it was. What an impressive human feat of architecture! Here I was, in the middle of absolutely no where, and before me stood evidence of a civilization that was once living in this very barren lands. If we were to attempt living there now, we probably would just give up (those of you who watch Lost are excluded). But neccessity begets creativity. The water canals are enough proof.

When I thought this was all there was to see, Hamza informed us that there is something else still up ahead.

We continued our way through the open – and hot – landscape where the actual city was. We didn’t take the luxury of exploring every corner, burrow and dwelling, but passing through an ancient city filled with modern people was enough of a paradox to take in.

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We arrived at the supposed end of the city to be informed by the locals that there is a monastery up ahead. We didn’t know that by “up” the guy really meant “up”. We declined his offer of rinding donkeys and instead decided to trek the path.

It started out with smiles, but along the path, it was a struggle of muscle power, will power and stamina. At several legs we almost decided to give up and return. But having been through all of this and coming all this way we decided not to chicken out.

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Becides we would look bad as three young supposedly healthy men giving up, when some old couple as ancient as Petra were climbing without breaking a sweat.

And them Japanese tourists.

We refused to succumb!

We reached the monastery which resembled the Treasury but on a larger scale. It was prettier to take photos of – except I forgot to take the images in RAW format – however the main attraction was the view from the mountain peak.

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It would have been breathtaking if it were not noon and the sun’s rays fried our eyeballs to crisp.

What was breathtaking however is the euphoria we got from reaching the peak. We endured! It was a great test to all of us – and to me especially – that if we only were a bit patient and fight our urge to be lazy, we could really achieve wonders. Just like the inhabitants did when they built this whole place.

From the top of the peak, the path didn’t look too rocky after all.

Two hours’ worth of hiking later, we were back to the car and on our way to Wadi Rum.

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The post is getting too long, no? Perservere!

We arrived at Wadi Rum at sunset. Qabbani went with his cycling buddies to do their thing while Hamza and myself climbed a nearby cliff to attempt watching what was left of the sunset. It was so quiet and peaceful.

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Until one of the camps decided to put dabkeh music on full volume for 4 consecutive hours.

After we had the delicious zarb, we headed out into the dark desert in a group to watch the stars. Some couples drifted off to get personal with the sand. I detached from the main group to go meditate while trying to be away from unsuspecting couples.

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While some poor chap was being live-buried by his friends in the distance, I drew a circle on the sand for no other reason than to create an atmosphere, sat in the center and controlled my breathing.

I closed my eyes to feel the energy of the stars.

A breath at a time, I was able to visualize the sky with my eyes closed. I then lay on my back and opened my eyes to see what I have visualized.

It was just beautiful.

Like a hopeless romantic, I drew the faces of people I loved in the stars. I tried to pick out the stars and constellations I already know, and attempted mapping the rest of the zodiac accordingly. With so many stars though it was taxing on my already-exhausted brain and I took out that time to just relax and enjoy the sky.

My meditation was interrupted by hyenas. I decided to relocate closer to the group in an attempt to not have lots of me eaten by the time I was rescued.

When I was finally comfortable and alone in my thoughts, I was interrupted again by the hyenas. Not one to ignore too many hints, I sat as close as possible to the group who were a major source of noise more annoying than the dabkeh music.

Determined though to enjoy this moment, I silenced them with my selective hearing abilities and concentrated on the stars.

I took many decisions that night regarding the direction of where my life was heading.

The group however had a different plan and decided to go back to the camp. I wanted to be there more but I was pretty sure of the hyenas’ presence (I have heard them and seen them in the shadows) and thought it best that in order to carry out the decisions I have taken, I needed to be alive and preferrably unchewed.

It was without a doubt one of the best nights ever – and I would love to go there again (for a different purpose hehe). The whole trip to Jordan has both been the detox I needed and intoxicating in other things.

Thank you all for your support and making this happen :) I’d never forget that!

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