April 4, 2022. Temperature
There was so much to tell yesterday that I held off on including pictures of the Port of Aqaba until today’s post.
Today we chose to do something completely different: a reenactment of the 1916 Arab Revolt at Wadi Rum. Honestly, the big draw for me was a chance to ride on the Al Hejaz Railway. Saudi Arabia’s Abandoned Hejaz Railway | Amusing Planet
It turns out, the entire experience was both a lot of fun, and educational. I really didn’t know all that much about the Jordanians’ war for independence from the Ottoman Turks, or about the pivotal role that T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) played in it, but our guide had tons of information about not only that, but also Jordan’s history from finally attaining independence in 1921 through to their present day relationships with Israel and the rest of the Middle Eastern countries (generally peaceful for the last 20 years).
Wadi is the Arabic word for valley, and Rum refers to the Jabal Ram mountain, known as “Rum” in English, which along with Jabal Umm ad Dami are Jordan’s two highest peaks and border the valley.
We approached our waiting train across undulating red sands like something out of a movie. In fact, in addition to David Lean’s iconic Lawrence of Arabia, lots of other movies have been shot here. Most recently, Matt Damon’s The Martian, and Disney’s 2019 live action remake of Aladdin.
It seems we were way too complacent about being on the Ottoman railway, chatting with the soldiers and enjoying the scenery.
Everything seemed fine.
Until it wasn’t.
We didn’t stand a chance against Bedouins on horseback and camel, British vehicles and firepower, and Lawrence of Arabia.
While the Arabs whooped it up flying the colours of their rebellion, “our” Turkish soldiers were taken away to the French Fortress.
We ourselves headed to the reconstructed Fortress, which is now a luxury desert camp called SINAM, where we enjoyed baked delicacies (including yummy thyme breadsticks) and tea.
Before returning to the ship we drove past the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, named in honour of T.E.Lawrence’s book of the same name, published in 1926. Sadly, an earthquake crumbled two of the pillars, leaving only five.
After a short rest and a cool drink, it was time for a lecture on the history of Luxor, and a port talk on Cairo, two of our imminent destinations.
I enjoyed the new Indian theme in the Chef’s Table tonight with floor-mates Sherry and Connie. Tomorrow we’ll try the brand new Sri Lankan menu with all 3 of our guys, but before that it’s a quick evening music set in Torshavn with the Viking Band.