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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Pilgrim in Jordan – Amman

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. – Khalil Gibran

 

You may wonder, what does a pilgrimage have to do with Jordan? To say that my trip was a journey undermines its purpose. A journey may have little or no motif that lays the foundation on which the traveler directs his step.

I traveled to Jordan on a pilgrimage; the reasons I shall keep to myself. Through this reading (and the following posts), I hope you understand the purpose of my travels.

My arrival in Amman has been greeted with frowns – which I expected – and a 20 minute “interview” at the airport, given I am the only Syrian on the plane who suspiciously arrived when a bomb blew off in Damascus that very day. I have been alerted that such things are standard procedures, but I did not expect that I had to narrate my life’s story to the head of security for entertainment in an attempt to convince him I came to Jordan for tourism and not running away from serving the Syrian military.

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Amman is a beautiful city. Some of you might be raising eyebrows (I know some of my friends in Dubai did when I told them where I was going), but I am an honest person and I can honestly say I loved Amman.

I traveled more or less everywhere – from Jabal al Taj to Al Hussein Gardens. My soul, however, found its place in downtown Amman – specifically where Knafet 7abeeba is (yes yes I know, food!). The simplicity of the place won me over the snobbish Abdoun area (which I admit, is a great place, but I don’t like such “high class” regions in a city) and seeing 7afartal, kids running about, people selling all sorts of stuff and men group-hollering and whistling at ladies next to a mosque is something you can’t not be amused about.

Amman is much cleaner than Damascus – I admit – and is overall more “higher class” (arqa). However, the differences in social class is much more noticeable in Amman. Whereas in Damascus you could travel from the richest areas to the Old City without much of a change in scenery (bar the number of people per square meter and pollution), in Amman there is a stark contrast in the quality of the roads, houses (and number of houses) as well as the types of cafes and people – how they dress, act and live.

The constant factor in Amman though, is cabs :D Anything that can be physically or verbally done against someone’s genitals can be learned from cab drivers.

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It felt great to smell clean air. Clean? Yes clean. No dust, no humidity… a chilling, crisp breeze with clouds hung low. I miss the clouds, the blue sky, the clean fresh air – especially after the rain. The smell of the grass and the trees, and the wind, even if it is in downtown mixed with car fumes.

Amman was the start of my pilgrimage. This is just a post of many to come – the Dead Sea, Amman again, and the grand finale of Petra and Rum. So stay tuned, and enjoy the Amman’s photos on my photo blog (I will upload the rest when the appropriate post is published!)

PS: for a brief cynical overview of the whole trip, check out Hamza’s post

And We’re Back…

Am a bit exhausted, yet energized.. am truly happy, and utterly sad…

Many things changed in one week. Clearer head, clearer mind, new perspectives…

New meanings, new friendships…

Learned so many things, a lot I was aware of, right under my nose but didn’t see… and others totally new.

I have a lot to write about, and I dunno how to write them! One post? Two? Three?

In any case, I will catch up on your blogs and insurmountable amount of emails and will post something in a couple of days.

Roll the Red Carpets! KJ COMING TO JORDAN!

Yes you read that right.

Did it sink in? No? Ok.

Hamza has been bugging me endlessly to go with him to Amman so we could go to Petra and Wadi Rum (which I like to call Wadi Num) and the Dead Sea and whathaveyou.

Now the reason I want to go to Amman is to eat from Kollaj 3omar and to pick on Maher.

Only yesterday I got the confirmation for my holiday (seriously do I have to beg people for my rights!) and booked during the meeting LOL!

I will be inshalla in Amman between September 26 to October 3rd. Yup that’s a week of KJ/Moogle in all their glories! So all you bloggerlings should organize a meeting or something. Settle your differences before I come :P I’m not coming to babsit :P

I of course expect a plush red carpet, preferably Iranian, and at the end of it a plate of fatteh :P

No mansaf. I eat it with a spoon so save yourself the embarassment!

And I will keep smiling in the airport :D tourist :D LOL :D

tada!

Oh as a side note, I got the Speedlite as a gift :D w00t!