Thursday, April 01, 2010

Wadi Dana meets the Oregon Coast

Last year I wrote about our annual camping trip in the Wadi Dana Nature Reserve; this year we enjoyed a different kind of camping experience. Think Wadi Dana meets the Oregon Coast. Now, we love the the Oregon Coast, contrast as it is, with it's rugged landscapes emerging through fog, brisk breezes, and overall dampness, to the arid climate of Jordan--but we don't camp at the Oregon Coast.

When we arrived at Wadi Dana last Friday the view from the arrival tower into the gorge was spectacular and we were hopeful of a beautiful weekend. But, within 30 minutes of our arrival ominous clouds rolled in.

They moved in so quickly that I was yet optimistic that they would move quickly through the valley, but it was not to be. By the time we reached camp the drizzle had begun and we were damp even before we got our things into our tent.

One family with four very small children made a quick--and wise--decision to cut and run, heading out of the valley on the shuttle that brought our things down. As the rain began to drip through the tents I thought we'd soon be following, but to my surprise, no one was ready to call it quits. The Bedouin tent of goat hair was still providing some damp, pungent shelter, the sleeping tents weren't leaking too badly, and we did have firewood. As long as the precipitation held at a drizzle we'd be okay?

If you look closely you'll see some flames in the middle of the ring of people. The fire pit was surrounded most of the time. I think my hair may have permanent smoke damage--I've washed it at least four times now and it still smells like smoke.

These smiles aren't forced. Really. I can't believe how many truly happy campers we had on this trip. One mom told me that as she took her young daughter to the bathroom at 4:30 in the cold, damp morning her daughter exclaimed, "Mom, thanks so much for bringing us here--this place is awesome!

And where else in Jordan would you have the chance to play fog ball?

We were looking pretty pitiful a few hours before breaking camp. This is Active Son and our friend carefully tending the hamburgers that were to be our lunch. I was ready to do a cold lunch in the tent but they insisted that grilled hamburgers would be better--they were right.

When you live in a rain deprived country like Jordan you learn to never complain about rain. Rain is baraka, blessing. That blessing of life was evidenced in the lush abundance of wildflowers that were blooming in Dana this year. The drizzle stopped for an hour or so on Saturday morning and I headed out on walk to enjoy the beauty of God's creation and visit some of my flower friends. Even the spent thistles looked beautifully fresh.

Jurinea staehelinae, after blooming

Convolvulus althaeoides

Ferula communis L.

The Giant Fennel staged the most glorious show of all the wildflowers in bloom.

And though I don't think that any of us would want to repeat the weather conditions we experienced this year, we bonded together in an extreme camping experience sort of way. No regrets. We made a memory.


macmahon7 said...

Definitely a memorable experience. You are not a wimpy camper anymore!

Laura A said...

Oooh, this looks fun! If a bit damp...I like the fog ball comment ;-)

And yes, it does resemble the Oregon coast! Not exactly my mental image of Jordan, but I'm learning.