I had a pretty rough night. Stomach cramps woke me up sometime after midnight. Several trips to the bathroom assured that I didn’t get much sleep. I got up at my usual time of 5 a.m. and seriously considered staying at the camp another day in hopes of getting better. The thought of another day sitting around in the sweltering heat with nothing to do but swat flies away certainly didn’t appeal to me. I couldn’t just sit under the open communal tent, the coolest place in the camp, and twiddle my thumbs all day long. I decided to continue hiking.
I’m actually quite surprised I haven’t gotten sick up until now. I’ve drank the communal Bedouin water on numerous occasions without any treatment at all. Why I brought a UV light and chlorine tablets to purify water is beyond me – I’ve only used them a handful of times. Many times I’ve been served food which obviously had sanitary problems. How many times have I sat down and had to compete with flies when eating sour yogurt, stew, bread, or some unknown dish? How many unwashed tomatoes have I eaten? I’m lucky to have stayed healthy this long.
With the sun just below the horizon, I left for the 35 mile hike to Aqaba with 5 liters of water assuming I could get more from the Bedouins.
For the next 3 or 4 miles I hiked out of the Wadi Rum Protected Area. Although the mountains were, as usual, spectacular, I didn’t really pay a lot of attention to them. There were thick clouds obscuring the sun, casting the usually brightly colored sandstone mountains into a drab brown and gray pile of unnoteworthy rocks. Oh well I had seen enough; today I’d rather hike with the sun obscured by the clouds rather than have it beat down unmercifully on me. Although the stomach cramps gradually diminished during the day, I still didn’t feel that great.
Except for the sand, hiking wasn’t too hard, but by 10 a.m. there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Worse still there was precious little shade so even though I desperately needed to sit down and take a break, I didn’t. I stay cooler if I walk. Sitting in the sun, I just get hotter.
I drank lots of water today and when I hit the town of Titen, I only had two of my five liters left.
Titen is a strange village. Back in 1965 Jordan traded Saudi Arabia 6000 square kilometers of its desert for a 12 kilometer stretch of coastline. Titen, 10 kilometers from the Saudi border, fell in that trade. The village is still administered by the Saudis and the inhabitants have dual citizenship.
The younger people have all left, seeking better prospects in Saudi Arabia, leaving what couldn’t have been more than 20 old people in a village three quarters deserted.
As I walked into the village I initially thought it was deserted. No cars, no people, not even a sound except for the wind. I walked around a little bit then I heard it. The voices of men. The source of the voices was a gated veranda which I promptly headed towards.
When they saw me they immediately motioned me to come in and sit down with them. I promptly plopped my exhausted body down on a mat. I was so tired I was having a hard time just sitting so after serving me tea, coffee, and water they just let me be. The water was terrible. A truck comes and fills up a 500 gallon plastic tank every so often. You can imagine what it tastes like. Yet I had no choice but to drink it and use it to replenish my water bottles.
The men who I sat with must come from a conservative tribe. The woman cannot even be seen by others. When tea was served all I saw was a teapot stealthfully pushed around the corner of the house. Never once did I hear or see a female.
After an hour or so I reluctantly forced myself to leave. I walked several miles and plopped myself down in the sand of a wadi. I barely had enough energy to set up my tent. Although the stomach cramps stopped, the digestive problems had zapped my energy. The relentless sun and sand drained any that was left. The only motivation I had was that there were only one or two more days of hiking until I reached Aqaba.
You can find all my journal entries from hiking the Jordan Trail here: Jordan Trail