It was my second day at Wadi Rum and I had a few hours to kill before my host drove me back to the camp. 24 hours had passed since I had arrived and I was mesmerized by the magnificence of the vast desert. I had spent hours sipping on cups of Bedouin tea in the company of Zedane (my host, the owner of the Bedouin Meditation Camp), explored the majestic rock formations of Wadi Rum during the day and slept under the stars in the night. I was pretty sure I was in love. It wasn’t the first time that I had been swept off my feet by a destination and it sure wasn’t going to be the last. But yet this was special. Almost unreal.
When Zedane offered me a ride to Wadi Musa after our morning tour of the desert, I couldn’t refuse the opportunity of meeting locals and chatting with them. We reached the sleepy village a good couple of hours into the afternoon when the sun was still in a relentless mood. As my host went about finishing the errands that he had set out do, I excused myself to take a walk through the almost desolate looking village. With tall and rugged rocky hills on two sides, the red desert sand on the other two and most buildings in a pretty dilapidated condition, the village looked like a settlement that had been flattened during some fierce intergalactic war years ago on the surface of Mars!
Now that we’re done with the dramatic description of the context, let’s zoom into the scene!
I stood by the side of a tiny shop in the village smoking a cigarette. The shade was a welcome relief after having spent now almost 45 minutes photographing excited school kids who were more than eager to pose for me. An old run down Landcruiser came and parked next to me. The driver, a young lad with a serious demeanor, looked at me and greeted me with a Salaam alaikum. I responded, Walaikum salaam. After we had introduced ourselves, I offered him a cigarette and we began chatting.
A few minutes into the chat, I asked him about what he loved about his life at Wadi Rum. Hamad had just told me that he had spent his whole life living there and had never had the urge to venture out. For someone like me who couldn’t fathom a life without travel, this was the most obvious question to ask. This post was inspired by his answer. He spoke with incredible maturity and he was only 23. His answer was simple and honest. It was the truth.
“My friend, I love this desert. It is very big and it’s all mine. Every night there are many stars. I feel like they are all mine too. I don’t need anything more. I am happy.”