The world around me was eerily silent. I was sitting atop a rugged red rock, surrounded by strangely shaped mountains which could be mistaken to be abandoned castles towering in a majesty which was graceful and imposing at the same time. A line of sad looking camels made their way in slow motion in the distance. The sky was turning pink and russet. In the hour before dawn, the near dark made everything look dreamy. I have never felt so utterly alone, yet selfishly content to have the sunrise to myself. Wadi Rum was waking up to another day.
We had had a hectic trip so far. Hiking through Dana Valley, followed by the backdoor hike to Petra, a drive through Wadi Rum and having stayed up late to see the stars of Wadi Rum’s famed night sky-when I tried to gently wake my husband and daughter for sunrise, I had half awake ‘You go. Let me sleep a little more’, murmured responses from both of them. Armed with my modest tiny camera, hastily dressed, I headed out into the desert. The Bedouin camp we were staying in was still sleepy. Two camp dogs decided to escort me. A sliver of moon was still visible as we set out, Ramadan started the next week. The moon was slim and intense silver against the inky sky.
A soft breeze blew through the air, but the silence was heavy. I turned towards the rock I thought we had seen sunset from the evening before. Soon I realized that all rocks in the desert looked the same. I decided to pick one randomly, took off my shoes and scrambled atop for a good view point. Turning towards where the sky seemed to take the deepest colours, I sat back and waited. The peace was broken just once- when one of my friendly guard dogs decided to taste my shoes. However, a warning shout drove him off and the two spent the rest of the time playing amongst themselves, leaving my shoes intact.
I reflected what I was doing the week before at this point and what I would be doing the week after. The same I suppose- getting ready for the work, packing lunches, emptying the dishwasher. What direction does sunrise occur in relation to my kitchen window? I contemplated for a moment. I realized I had never looked out. Perhaps it takes a moment like this- utterly alone in a Jordanian desert, waiting for the sun to pop out any time now, to realize the extent of rush that we lived in. Not often does a moment like this crop up- just doing nothing, just waiting for nature to take its daily course.
The line of camels made their way in dreamy, silent, slow motion- winding through the camp of black and white strongly erected tents. Surprisingly, there were no other tourists; in fact no other human beings (my guide would later explain that sunrise was not that popular an activity in Wadi Rum). I had the desert to myself.
The mountains in Wadi Rum are high above the horizon and sunrise can be teasing just as sunset can come quick with darkness falling soon like a curtain. For several minutes, the sky deepened, simmered, turned gold from pink, every time promising the entry of the new day, but wavering. And then suddenly, the sun had made the chink of an entry- a golden dot, gradually expanding into an arc and finally a glowing orb, reminding me of childhood crayon pictures- the sunrays behind a mountain, the sky edged with pink and red, the sand reflecting the colours of the sky.
I scrambled down my rock and turned back to camp. Smoke heralded the kitchen coming to life- cups of sweet Bedouin tea would be waiting at breakfast. Another day of driving and new places- more knowledge, culture and touristic pleasure. At least the sun rise would be my own.