Wadi Rum is an expansive red desert where The Martian was shot to replicate Mars. Far away from the hustle bustle of city, it promised me a chance to look at a starry sky and see some shooting stars. Over here, I found my tour companions were an american dude, a Brazilian chick and a Brazilian hippie dude. We did not need many introductions, we were just travelers. It did not count where we came from, what we did. We were just people lost in the moment, ready to explore the desert and see what it had to offer. Our tour guide took us to different view points which involved a lot of hiking. All of us had a simple Bedouin lunch and I personally waited for the night. By late afternoon we had reached the camps where we were supposed to spend the rest of the night. I was fidgety waiting for it to be dark.
By now, I had already told my Brazilian hippie friend about the hashish and we decided to roll two thick joints mixed with tobacco. The Bedouins laid out the dinner and set up a bonfire for us to keep warm in an otherwise cold night. We were joined by people from other nearby camps for the dinner and all of us sang and danced together. I took an early break from the drama as it was something else that I seeked. “A Million Stars”.
I stepped out of the camp and walked far away into the darkness, with my held up high, trying to spot the stars. And the dream came true. However cold it might have been, I did not need anything to keep me warm as I was covered by a blanket of million stars (it might have been just an edge of the milky way, but for me it was the path to infinity). Quickly, me and Pedro set up my camera and took some snaps of the milky way. We lit up the the joints we had rolled and like two perfect hippies, we trolled over all the nuances of working a dead end job and how traveling was the holy grail. Pedro showed me how to spot the shooting stars and from there on I was able to spot one every 5 mins. We spoke at great lengths about traveling across S. America and Astronomy. I was still unhappy about the photos we had taken earlier of the stars and I decided to stay a little longer in the cold taking somewhat perfect photos of the milky way. (Pardon me, but I know I have a long way to go before I master night sky photography.)
I sat there alone for about 2 hours in the cold, my feet were numb, I couldn’t feel my nose and hands, and I was just wearing a jacket in almost close to zero temperature. Took as many photos as I could and decided to call it a night. Now, only one last thing that remained was to meet an old colleague friend from Jordan.
I arrived back in Amman the following day in the evening and decided to take in much needed rest after spending the last night in extreme colds. Pedro and me decided to visit the much famous cafe culture of Amman during the night. First we decided to buy some souvenirs to take back home.
The entire downtown has small cafes placed in every nook and corner which serve sheesha, tea and snacks. I visited the Hashem Restaurant (oldest restaurant in Amman) first to try out some local dishes like the Falafel, Pita bread and Hummus. Pedro and me together later went to a nearby cafe to try the lemon mint sheesha and lemon mint cooler. We dined on authentic dinner food like shish tawouk (chicken kebabs), chicken kofta and mensaf (mutton rice).
Near to midnight, my old colleague friend from Jordan, Hasan Qandil, joined me in downtown and we spoke about the old days talking about Schlumberger, India and Jordan. He took me to this super famous dessert join where we tried Kanafeh (most Jordanian desserts look similar to the Indian Desserts and i had noticed this particular joint had 10-20 people waiting in que every evening). Kanafeh is like the Indian halwa with a lot of cheese and melted sugary syrup. FOOD ORGASM!
All in all, though the Jordanian people did not impress me, I fell in love with the Jordanian food. This was the end of one week of adventure, a trip of a lifetime (of course I am never traveling to Jordan again) and the first solo traveling-wala-trip.
The first day I remember calling my mom and telling her how I wished I was traveling with friends and how that would have helped me have fun on my vacation. But, 5 days later I knew I had more fun traveling alone, visited way more places, soaked in way more culture and history, tried new delicacies, all while making new travel friends (aka Living the Hippie Traveler’s Life).And, wait it gets better, the next stop was at Indonesia in Gili Trawangan (Gili Tralalala .. it makes you lazy enough not to say the whole name) and that was going to be one hell of a party and I was gearing up for another adventure.
This post was originally published on 'The Indian Abroad'.