Trip to Wadi Hidan

This past Saturday, I went on my last trip outside of Amman to Wadi Hidan, a wadi located near Madaba. A few of my friends and I from CLS went with a tour group, Jo Hiking. The cost for this hiking group included the transportation to and from the wadi, guides, photography, and lunch, so it was a pretty good deal.

We met at a hotel in Amman (there were other people who went on the trip too, so we totaled about 14 people) and then took a bus to Wadi Hidan, stopping along the way for a quick breakfast.

At about 10:30 we started our hike. Wadi Hidan is a hike that focuses on swimming, so for a lot of it, we were swimming in deep beautiful clear-green water, with tall rocky cliffs on either side of us. The wadi also had many areas where we had to jump off ledges into the water, slide down waterfalls, and climb down the sides of the slippery rocks using ropes– good thing we had guides with us to help us through it all!

The second half was the “harder” half, though personally I thought the first half was harder since it involved more heights. The second half was mainly climbing over rocks to make our way through the wadi. We ended by looking over a huge waterfall that let out over a gorgeous area of water surrounded by hanging trees. It truly looked like something from a fairytale. We couldn’t keep going because only professionals can climb down the waterfall, so we turned around and climbed the rocks to get out of the wadi and then started the long walk back to the bus by walking on the rocks that overlooked the wadi.

We got back to the bus at around 8 PM, thoroughly exhausted, and ate a quick dinner (that was supposed to be the lunch). The walk, though, was beautiful, and I loved the views the whole time. The only issue was that the guides said they were providing lunch, but they did not tell us that the lunch was given at the end of the hike once we got back to the hike, so no one ate a large breakfast and no one brought snacks or a large amount of water. The hike was supposed to end at about 3 pm, and we were all very hungry and thirsty by then (because they did not tell us to bring food for the hike), so when we got back at 8 without really eating all day and with limited water, we were quite exhausted and very dehydrated. Well besides the tour group’s not-amazing planning, it was a wonderful day and I got the visit the last wadi on my to-do list in Jordan. Though I am still partial to Wadi Hessa as my favorite wadi ever, Wadi Hidan was still quite beautiful.

Speaking of, from the wadis I have seen, here is my list of my rankings of the wadis I have visited in Jordan:

1. Wadi Hessa

2. Wadi Mujib

3. Wadi Rum

4. Wadi Hidan

Even though Wadi Hidan was last, it was still so amazing– it is basically a list of beyond perfectly beautiful to perfectly beautiful because all the wadis here have wow’d me so much.

Wadi Mujib

Today my friends and I went to Wadi Mujib, which is listed as one of the best things to do in Jordan as it is known for its natural beauty. Wadi Mujib is a wadi near the Dead Sea, so we took a bus from Amman to the Dead Sea and then got a taxi to take us from a spot at the Dead Sea to Wadi Mujib (there are not buses that go to Wadi Mujib). We opted to not do the longer guided route because the entrance fee with a guide is very expensive, so we haggled a lower student entrance fee, put on the mandatory live vests and were on our way!

Wadi Mujib was gorgeous. My photos cannot capture its true beauty (and the last 2 photos are of the Dead Sea) and I could only take limited photos because I wrapped my phone in about ten ziplock bags so that it would not get water damaged. A lot of the wadi involved swimming and full immersion in water, so everything we were carrying got completely soaked– thank goodness for my plentiful ziplock bag protection!

A lot of the route was quite challenging and involved climbing up small waterfalls using ropes, shimming up slippery rocks, and sliding down steep tall rocks in waterfalls. Luckily there were some ropes provided to help with the process, but many parts were quite challenging and daunting. I was glad for the challenge though, because it showed me that I can handle this type of physical and mental challenge!

At the end of the wadi is a huge waterfall (if one has a guide, one can actually go up the waterfall) so we hung out there for a bit and ate lunch before heading back. Heading back was a little more difficult because its easier to climb up a rapid than to slide down the rocks to descend, but we made it in one piece!

I probably enjoyed Wadi Hessa more, even though it was far longer and more challenging because it had similar landscapes to Wadi Mujib as well as more landscapes that were all in all, more breathtaking. I also liked how natural Wadi Hessa is– though Mujib is also natural, there are clear manmade constructions, like the ropes attached to rocks, some stairs at some parts, and nails attached to some rocks to keep them in. Wadi Hessa seemed almost unexplored and untouched, which added to its awe.

Overall, though, I had a wonderful time at the gorgeous Wadi Mujib and a great last day of my long weekend. Time for school tomorrow though; can’t believe I only have two weeks left in Jordan!

Sawadi

December 20, 2013

Another great day! My host parents and I met up with my parents at Sawadi Beach and from the beach, we took a small motor boat to an island close-by.

The island that we went to had tall rocky hills, but was small enough to know it was an island (if one climbed to the top of the rocks, one could easily see the whole island). It was one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been too: the water was very blue and clear with coral showing in some of the areas and the island gave a great view of the surrounding small islands and the vast expanse of water. It was breathtaking.

I went swimming with my host brothers and climbed some of the rocks. We then barbecued chicken and beef and ate a picnic on the beach. Next was some more swimming, and like the dweeb I am, I brought my goggles so I could look underwater. And I’m glad I did, because there were lots of small rainbow-colored fish to look at!

After spending some more time swimming, we took the boat back. At this point, the tide had receded quite a bit, so we walked the boat some ways to the shore. Many cars were driving around the beach and a lot of men were hanging out in different areas on the beach.

I said goodbye to my host parents since I was going to stay with my parents for a few days. We drove to the house they were staying at, showered, and ate at a delicious Lebanese restaurant.

Weekend at the Farm

December 13, 2013

Today we left our house early in the morning to go on a trip! We first drove to Wadi Bani Khalid, one of the largest wadis in Oman. To get to there, we drove to the eastern region of Oman, called Sharqiya. On the way, we drove through Soor, the major city in Sharqiya. We just drove along the outskirts of Soor, so I can’t really describe it, but we did drive by the largest oil plant in Oman. It is along the coast, and is a huge sprawling factory.

The wadi was beautiful. I think I like Wadi al-Shaab more, but it is a close tie. At the entrance were some young boys sitting and selling food and renting out wheelbarrows. The brightly-decorated wheelbarrows are for people who may be having a barbeque and need something to carry their food or matts. Since we went right before lunchtime on a Friday, there weren’t many people there, but that made it nicer since we could avoid a crowd.

My host father and I swam in the water (it was too deep for my host brothers to swim in). The water was cool, but not too cold and very clear. Palm trees dotted the beach and rocky mountains surrounded the water. It was so beautiful!

After swimming, we drove to an Indian buffet restaurant to have lunch. We then went to the desert! But not the desert that Muscat has; the desert desert, with huge hills of sand!

A small village lay between two of the sand dunes, with huge date tree farms. It was funny to see the green areas in the middle of the desert. We drove past the town into the sand to an area where camels were tied up. We walked around the camels (so cool!!) and through the sand. The sand was hot on my feet, and as I tried to walk up a hill of sand, it was really hard and I kept sliding down! My host brother crawled their way up, which seemed to be the better way. We could not drive up through the sand because you need a special car to do that, but hopefully I will get to do that at some point in my trip. Either way, I’m so glad I got to walk in the desert!

Our next stop was to a farm, where we spent the night. My host father’s friend owns the farm, and he let us stay there for the night (he doesn’t live there, but just goes there sometimes on the weekend. He wasn’t there though; it was just us and the men who work on the farm).

The farm lay on a pretty extensive plot of land and it had fields of plants (some to feed the cows), as well as a lot of chickens and cows. Other than the farming land, there are some small rooms for the workers to live in. We stayed in one room with an attached bathroom (which had a hole for a toilet, which also doubled as the drain for the shower). But the rooms did have TV (with cable) and Wi-Fi!

The farm also had a large pool, which got its water from wadis. My host brothers and I swam for a bit, and I tried to teach them how to swim. It was so nice to be able to swim laps for a while- even though the bottom of the pool was covered in moss!

In the evening, my host mother and I sat outside and read while the chickens were fed (and some slaughtered for dinner). They started to quiet down as the sun set.

Later on, we all sat outside on an elevated area covered in a mat with cushions (where my host brothers and host father were going to sleep). We projected a movie on the adjacent building wall and watched “Chicken Run”—ironic since we ate chicken (from the farm) for dinner. We cooked the chicken on a fire next to this area and burned incense to keep away mosquitos. The men who work on the farm went to their different rooms and watched TV together.

I got tired and went back to the room and went to bed. I shared the room with my host mother and our maid. We lay mattresses on the floor side by side and covered them with blankets that we brought from home. It was actually quite comfortable.

It was funny because my host mother was afraid to go to sleep because of the “little alligators” that are sometimes in the room. After talking to her more about these animals (I got scared at first), I realized she was talking about lizards. Luckily, I didn’t spot any in the room!

 

December 14, 2013

I woke up at around 7 because it was so bright outside and the chickens were up and about. I quickly got dressed and then went with my host brothers and host father to the souk.

The souk was only about ten minutes away (the surrounding area of the farm is other farms and overgrown land that starts to turn into newer larger houses on their plots of land as you get closer to the souk). The souk was an outdoor souk, with small shops lining the main road. We passed the city’s old fort (my host father told me that every city has a fort) as well as its traditional fish market (open in the morning, it is a large covered square where men sell fresh fish). We bought tea, bread, and cheese for breakfast, and drove back to the farm.

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After breakfast, we packed and as my host brothers went for a quick swim, I wandered around the farm.

We then drove back to Muscat. I’m now typing this blog (obviously) and studying Arabic and watching some movies. Oh yeah, and I’m eating an orange and yogurt lollipop!

Rain and Playdate!

Today was a good day! In the morning we went to see some of the wadis created by all the rain. Just near our house, a big wadi had formed. The water, though, isn’t safe to swim in since it has a strong current and was brown from the mud it flowed over. We drove by a few more wadis and then drove to the top of a mountain to see the view. It was still drizzling, but the view was breathtaking, It looked like a scene from a painting when the sky opens to reveal Heaven. There were many other people looking at the view as well as all the wadis we went to. I guess since it hardly rains here, it is exciting for people to see the aftermath. And it was pretty spectacular. Except for the part where many places flood… like my host father’s school. And the souk. And my host cousin’s school… And many of the houses. So the rain can actually be pretty devastating. Luckily, it wasn’t too bad where I am living.

It was also very interesting to see the media’s reaction to the rain. For the past 2 days, all the news has talked about is the rain. It is a bit amusing for me since I am very used to rain. So a small storm doesn’t mean very much to me and I’m not used to seeing rain being constantly reported on the news. But then again, rain is rare here and can wreck havoc on many of the people living in Oman. I was, however, to once again smell rain and see gray skies! It’s been a while!

In the afternoon Mac came over. My first playdate in Oman! I felt like a little kid, asking permission from my parents, waiting for her to ask permission, seeing if she could get a ride, planning an end time… We hung out and then decided to bake a cake!

Cooking here is very different from cooking in my house in the US. For starters, my family here does not have measuring cups and spoons, so everything is estimated. We also couldn’t find a cutting board and had to leave out a bunch of ingredients because we did not have them (like butter, vanilla extra, confectioners sugar, and milk (we used powdered milk instead)). We had to, therefore, improvise a lot. We made a coffee chocolate cake, which turned out pretty well, but then decided to be adventurous and make frosting. Too bad we were missing a lot of the ingredients! It turned out to be a very liquid-y glaze. So we had the genius idea to add orange! We poured in orange juice and then squeezed fresh oranges until it started to taste good. We basically made up the glaze recipe as we went. Then I poked holes in the cake so the glaze would soak through. It looked kind-of gross, though, so we sliced oranges and put it on top to cover up all the holes. It was really fun and tasted pretty good! So after 2.5 hours of baking, pouring fish oil on the ground, and sniffing at a suspicious yellow spread we found in a cabinet that resembled melted butter, we created a coffee chocolate orange cake!

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