Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wadi Rum

Though we've visited the breath-taking-ly beautiful desert of Wadi Rum before and Dear Husband and the boys have camped there a couple of times, the ladies had never experienced desert camping at its finest. This being Oldest Daughter's senior year, she requested a night in Wadi Rum before leaving home. We invited some friends to join in the fun and headed down to Rum for a wonderful night and two days.

The ladies are at the "entrance" to Wadi Rum in front of Jebel (mountain) al-Mazmar. Recent legend (Can there be urban legends in the desert? With the increase of the tourism and the temptation it brings for starting legends, maybe so.) has it that T.E. Lawrence called this mountain "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom". This, apparently, is a fabrication made up for the promotion of tourism--perhaps? The name of Lawrence's most famous work, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom derives it's name from Proverbs 9:1: "Wisdom has built a house; she has hewn out her seven pillars." The mountain is never mentioned in his book. (from The Rough Guide to Jordan)

At Rum village we loaded our guide's 4-wheeler and headed into Wadi Rum.

These very pregnant white camels belonging to our bedouin guide, followed us into camp. Buying price: about $15,000 for the pair. They're from Saudi Arabia.

As we unpacked our gear into the wool bedouin tent, our guide, in true bedouin style, welcomes us with some golden tea flavored with wild sage.

Sandstone worn through the ages until the mountainsides look like melted candles makes for great climbing as well as beautiful scenery.

Lizard tracks (notice the continuous tail track)

Tracks from something very small
Camel tracks

Our guide insists that these inscriptions, found on a mountainside near our camp, are authentic. I was thinking Nabatean, but a guide book suggests ancient Thamudic, the Thamuds being a cousin tribe of the Nabateans.

Wide open spaces and sand as far as the eye can see provided energy-expending fun for kids of all ages. It truly warmed my heart to see how much fun they were having!

Younger son is the only one of my kids I trust to try a stunt like this and not hurt himself.

Highlight: Climbing to the top of a BIG sand dune and running/jumping down together.

Way, way fun.

A trip to Wadi Rum will teach one to appreciate the beauty of the desert.

Being treated to a beautiful desert sunset, we were a little concerned that the clouds would obscure the famed star display which we were looking forward to seeing that night. We shouldn't have worried. The stars, which I was not clever enough to photograph, were spectacular. We even observed quite a few "falling stars".

Returning to camp just after sunset, we arrived just in time to watch our guide, Miziyad, dig up our supper. Yes, that is what I said, dig up. He had prepared the famous desert dish, zarb, for our entourage.

Chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, and onions are cooked over hot coals in an underground pit. For insulation/cooking, the pit is covered first with foil, then a pan, a wool blanket, and finally, sand.

The food, cooked to perfection, is lifted out of the pit and served. They had also prepared salad, rice, and a wonderful vegetable dish for us to enjoy. Delicious!

Dear Husband enjoying the a serene early morning desert

And I can manage to find a flower, even in the desert, even in November:

Anabasis articulata

Sunday, November 04, 2007

College Chase

As I type, all three of our computers and their operators are engaged in some aspect of the college application process for Oldest daughter.

Dear Husband is yawning over his laptop, orienting himself to the College Board's Profile financial aid form. He is in charge of all things financial and has already spent many hours looking at FAFSA sites, talking with our very knowledgeable and helpful accountant (Bless you, Mr. M!), reading financial aid pamphlets and books, and contemplating various creative college financing schemes.

Travel Logistics Consultant is another hat that Dear Husband is wearing; armed with a list of possible audition dates and a US map, he is trying to construct a workable travel plan for Oldest Daughter and me to make as many auditions as possible during a three-week period next February. This feat is probably even more complicated than trying to figure out our financial aid qualifications with all our weird oversea financial exceptions. One plan had us in the States for five weeks. Not good. I had unpleasant visions of my younger three children, home alone, watching dvds and playing indoor soccer instead of studying. Not to mention meal prep, etc. So, we pulled the audition slot-machine handle a few more times and came up with a shorter trip, though we will have to eliminate at least one conservatory from the circuit.

Oldest Daughter is at her laptop simultaneously writing and submitting her Ethics mid-term assignment and polishing up her resume and "personal statement" so that she can submit her first online college application tonight--after I go over the 18 page application which she has filled out, that is. Transcripts (my job) and letters of recommendation to follow by snail mail in the next week or two. Did I mention that she also needs to submit preferred audition dates and teachers whom she would like to study with?

Several windows are open on the family desktop on which I am working so that I can check dates, admissions requirements (no two schools alike), and other essential information, relaying it to Oldest Daughter and Dear Husband as they fill out their forms. This week I must finish constructing Oldest Daughter's transcript, complete with detailed class descriptions for those conservatories which are suspicious that homeschooled musicians may have only made music during their high school years and not really studied.

It's getting late and the stress is building. Time to put it aside with plans to start fresh in the morning. I remind Oldest Daughter that Big Unfinished Tasks always seem more overwhelming late at night. Dear Husband wisely suggests we end our evening in prayer. When our hearts are tempted to give in to anxiousness it is so good to confess our weakness, admit our dependence on our gracious Heavenly Father, and receive his perfect peace and strength. And, as I say goodnight to the younger children I remind them: "Blessed are the history and science majors for their college admissions process will be exceedingly easier than that of a violin performance major."