From Aqaba I am making my way north to Petra, the lost city. I decide to make an unplanned overnight stop just opposite the Wadi Rum train station.

The Valley of the Moon

I stop at a small place run by Yahia Katamin, a local photographer and guide. He is part of the community development program for rural areas of the Noor Al Husein Foundation. In front of his place is a large covered patio with various souvenirs and a coffee table in the corner. We have coffee. The desert air is around us, it covers all the souvenirs, the cushions we sit on and the table we use. In the back is an ancient desert-dwelling cave built up at the entrance by a stone wall.

Wadi Rum – the Valley of the Moon

Lawrence of Arabia

The UNESCO site of Wadi Rum was the filming location of the award-winning 1962 silver cinema epic “Lawrence of Arabia”. The movie had stunning scenery shots and helped kick-started Jordan’s tourism industry. At the entrance of the Valley is a sandstone massif known as the Seven pillars of Wisdom. Either it came to be the title of Thomas Edward Lawrence‘s book, or perhaps it is vice-versa.

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.

– T.E. Lawrence

Sandstone massif known as the Seven pillars of Wisdom

Dreamers of the Day

Hussein Suleiman of Rum village is my safari guide for the day. He speaks of the legends that remain from the ancient Nabataean people among the Bedouin. The mysterious markings found everywhere in stone are according to Hussein markings for “treasures of gold” buried across the desert. As we jeep safari around the Wadi Rum Valley in search for Nubian ibex, one can not help but compare the experience to a boating trip across a bay of islands. The sand being the sea, the sandstone ridges being the islands. Hussein leads me up one of these ridges, one where there is a natural forming water creek. In such a rain forsaken area like the desert, it does not get better than knowing where to find water.

Nabataean Rock Carvings in Wadi Rum

His once prosperous but now abandoned camp site, near Rum village stands as a reminder that tourism is not what it used to be in the region. From the treasures he has acquired over the years as a desert guide are stunning photographs shot by an Italian lady years ago and this miniature Egyptian Scarab Seal. I can hereby state that its value is only preceded by its beauty and meaning.