Monday, November 28, 2005

Jordan Valley fun

About a month ago, some of my friends and I drove southwest through the lush Jordan Valley, hoping to reach the actual Jordan River (or at least a nearby pond) to camp out. After being initially turned back by the Jordanian military, we further meandered through the villages, trying to avert the blocked paths. Eventually, we reached a dead-end; well, more the end of a small complex of homes. As we gazed at the wonderful view of Israel and the southern end of the Golan Heights, a man came out of the house. This kind of a situation would be extremely awkward in the States, showing up at some random person’s house in the middle of nowhere. “Uhh, do you know how to reach there? Yeah, I know there is forbidden by the military; and yeah, I also know that there doesn’t really have anything specific to do; and yeah, it’s strange and stupid we want to camp…but, is it possible?” However, I’ve lived enough in the Middle East to know that very few Middle Easterners (especially rural folks) will turn down the opportunity to be hospitable. We spent the next 24 hours with this family, chatting it up, meeting endless amounts of relatives, eating babaganoush from eggplants we just picked, and drinking cup of tea after cup of tea, and playing American songs on the guitar. For the camping, we crammed four of us in the tent, while Will slept outside. Aside from the cramped space, sleep was difficult due the cacophony of sounds radiating outside our tent. First, there were the men hanging out near our tent who would not shut up! Then, there was this crazy animal cackling throughout the night, which our hosts later told us was an animal similar to a wolf…a hyena? Finally, there was the hourly volley of gunshots. The Israelis? No. The Jordanian military? Nope. The local guard killing wild (nocturnal) boars throughout the night? Yep. I’m still not sure whether he was shooting the boars to protect the crops or us, but there were times the shots definitely sounded like they were in my ear, which is a bit disconcerting! A nice little adventure.

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