South of the capital Amman there is basically only one axis to move on and this means that you almost can’t avoid passing each place twice, once going South and once returning to the North. Therefore we decided to skip Petra, to spare this event for the return and to visit Wadi Rum first.
We wanted to buy some supplies in the town Quwayra as we had heard that we would need to carry our own food and water for the stay in the dessert. And even more important: We were looking for food as we were starving after the long drive. However it turned out to be difficult to find a restaurant or at least a falafel place: Hardly anybody spoke English (never happened to us in any other place in Jordan), there were no restaurants and the only Falafel place was closed. Finally somebody recommended the highway rest stop.
So we went into the indicated direction but got it wrong somehow. As soon as we had left the town, the driver of a jeep indicated to us that we were on the wrong road. It turned out that the driver, Saleh, speaks English very well. He told us to follow him, he would take us to the Falafel place. And when he, too, discovered, that the place was closed, he invited us to the house of his uncle for lunch. We tried to refuse but that was not accepted.
By the way: In Jordan it is a matter of politeness to invite other people. It happens that a stranger talks to you in the road and after a bit of small talk he invites you home for a tea. It is then also a matter of politeness to refuse! Only if you refuse strictly for three times and the invitation is still repeated it is an honest invitation and you can accept. If you accept an invitation directly you might cause severe distress to the other person.
We quickly grab two packets of nuts and sweets as a little present, then we are served a tasty dish with rice, vegetables and chicken. We don’t eat with the family, as there are already other guests in the house for lunch. But after we finish the chief of the clan (who already shook hands with the king as a big photo on the wall documents) welcomes us.
Then it is Saleh’s turn again. He already told us before the invitation for lunch that he runs a little Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum. He describes us his offer, we negotiate a bit and then we decide to do our tour with him. It turns out to be a good choice, even though more expensive than the cheapest offers we have read about. But on the other hand we have the camp for us alone, get great food from morning to evening and experience another highlight of our trip.
© Volker Umpfenbach