A Good Night’s Sleep

Jordan – March 2013

I have never been much into camping. When I was around ten year’s old, my father setup a tent for me and a friend to “camp” in our backyard. Once it was time to sleep, I spent about an hour cold, uncomfortable, and distracted by all the noises of the night, so I left and went to sleep in my room, which was warm, comfortable, and quiet. My opinion of camping has not improved much since then.

Our choice of Jordan came about rather incidentally. Originally the plan was not to travel during my Spring Break but rather to stay home and relax. As the break approached, we considered a domestic trip. My wife has never been to New Mexico, so I looked into sites, thinking we could situate ourselves in Santa Fe for the week. Then my wife’s work required her to attend a conference in Tel Aviv the week before my break, so the plan shifted to our meeting up in Amman after her conference and join a tour of Jordan that perfectly matched my break.

Sometimes travel requires unusual sleeping situations, either out of necessity or for a cultural experience. Over the years we’ve spent the night in many overnight trains, a few overnight buses, even a yurt in Kyrgyzstan. There have been some home stays and, on rare occasion, some camping. I do my best to avoid this latter option, but nearly any tour of Jordan is going to include a night in a Bedouin-style tent in Wadi Rum. I won’t like it, but I will do it.

The day is spent in 4x4s exploring the northern areas of Wadi Rum via an old Roman road. The area is filled with rock bridges and natural rock sculptures. The landscape consists of sandstone mountains and white and pink colored sands. When we arrive at our campsite, we explore the immediate area for a bit before retiring to an elevated enclave in the surrounding rock hills to read and relax for a while. Our shelter for the night is in a single, large, traditional goat hair tent, which is laid out with rugs, mattresses, pillows and sleeping bags.

As night falls, it turns pitch black and we’ve all taken shelter in the tent. A few chose to take their sleeping out onto the Wadi for the night but the rest remain in the tent. Then someone begins snoring, so more end up outside of the tent. I put in my earplugs and find as comfortable a position as I can on the thin mattress. I’d been dreading this night but then something unexpected happens—I get a good night’s sleep.

In the morning, I’m awake and refreshed looking at all of the exhausted expressions of my fellow travelers. None seem to have slept well, neither inside nor outside the tent. My wife had been up most of the night swatting the insects that never both me. Breakfast is a quiet affair as everyone is still trying to wake up. Me, I’m up for a hike.

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