Lost & Found in Wadi Rum

I visited Wadi Rum while co-escorting a group of about 30 with Rich Davis, our Midwest sales manager and frequent guest blogger. Our incomparable guide Ahmed was our true leader but we were there to make sure all services ran smoothly and keep track of everyone. It was a large group, so we were forever rounding up stragglers and counting heads. Of course our #1 responsibility was as keepers of The Box, but I mention this only as a cryptic allusion to another post sometime in the future.

Wadi Rum was towards the end of the 10-day tour of Jordan and was a highlight for me. I was very excited when our bus dropped us at the visitor center, where we were to board 4×4 vehicles and ride into the wadi and meet the bus on the other side. The visitor center consists of single story buildings and a wide open courtyard looking directly out at the famous Seven Pillars rock formation.

The 4×4 vehicles weren’t quite lined up when we arrived and the group was spread out around the center, looking at the displays, visiting the toilets etc. Like a nice hostess, I got in the end of the line for the restroom. When I went into the lady’s room my group was spread in all directions and the 4x4s had not arrived. When I came out 3 minutes later I didn’t see a single face I recognized.

Although it was true that I had been left behind, the thought was so inconceivable that it didn’t even occur to me until I had walked around the whole center and made a visual sweep of the outside perimeter 2 or 3 times. How does a group of that size disappear in 3 minutes? They were so gone I couldn’t even see their dust. Thirty scattered people coalesced, distributed into 6 vehicles and rode beyond the horizon, with their dust, in 3 minutes. I had been corralling these nice people for over a week and couldn’t fathom such a thing. It’s a mystery to this day.

I know what you’re thinking. OK, 5 minutes, max. I swear.

Just as I was realizing my situation a  handsome man in traditional dress approached and asked if I needed anything. I’m pretty sure he had been watching me circle and was way ahead of me. He took me to an office where I phoned Ahmed, who sent a truck back for me. Because they were split into so many vehicles, no one even knew I was missing.

A few minutes later a Bedouin-driven Toyota 4X4 blew up in a cloud of dust. I rode in the cab with the driver who drove very fast across the sand while peeling an orange and sharing it with me, section by section. He swerved abruptly a few times and I squealed involuntarily, which he found highly amusing. He chatted away in Arabic the whole ride, although I think I made it clear I didn’t understand him.

It was only 10-15 minutes before we reached the group, which was stopped to take in the astonishing scenery. The assumption was made that I had stayed behind to conduct important Ya’lla business. I did not dispel that myth. Only Rich and Ahmed knew the truth.

Read about Petra, biblical Jordan and border crossing between Israel and Jordan in previous posts.

Visit www.yallatours.com/jordan to see our Jordan tours, all privatly escorted and customizable.

5 thoughts on “Lost & Found in Wadi Rum

  1. And we will keep that secret to our graves. Well, we will and all the readers of the blog. All I can say is if it came to your or me or The Box, we know who would be sacrificed. The Box contains the Ya’lla Seven Pillars of Wisdom, as far as HQ is concerned, and if it were lost Indiana Jones would be needed to find it.


  2. I know the feeling. I was in Rome escorting 150 high school students and teachers. I was bringing up the rear coming out of St. Peter’s when I looked down to take adjust my camera in order to take a picture of the Piazza and the Oblisk. I took a couple of pictures and proceeded forward only to discover no one was in front of me. No one. How does a group of 149 disappear into thin air? The went right past the Swiss Guards and onto the street; I went straight ahead because I saw someone in lime green and thought she was with my group. She wasn’t. So for 1 1/2 hours I wondererd around in a circle hoping to find one person from our group. Bad thing was, I was carrying over $13,000 in my drawstring backpack which I was supposed pay for tips and a gondola ride later in Venice. Two lessons to be reinforced: there’s a good reason for a buddy system; and when you are lost, stay put. (I wasn’t lost. I knew exactly where I was; but I was separated. I was on my way to catch a cab to the next stop when I finally caught up with one of the tour guides who was standing by the Oblisk trying to reach me on the Whisper headphone.)


    • Great story Nancy, and excellent advice – the buddy system and staying put if lost or separated. Staying put is so hard though, when the adrenalin is pumping and you’re positive that group is just around the next corner…


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