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.