Holiday: Jordan – Day 5 (20th April)

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Good morning all!! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ. We’re in Jordan for a 10-dayer with great mates, Ralph & Karen. We’re halfway through our break where today, we’re off to Dana Biosphere Nature Reserve. It’s Jordan’s largest nature reserve, located in the south-central and was founded in 1989. The Biosphere supports over 800 plant species and more than 450 animal species (of which 25 are known to be endangered, including the Sand Cat, the Syrian Wolf, the Lesser Kestrel and the Spiny Tailed Lizard).

Today’s visit includes a LONG walk too (I’m getting good at those!) ๐Ÿ‘, but other than that, we weren’t sure what to expect. What I didn’t imagine was that I’d be enjoying morning tea with a herd of goats – living the dream, ehh??!! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Perfect for walking!

What you may have missed…

Thanks for your readership and comment so far – each day seems to be setting new records for numbers! ๐Ÿ˜

Day 4 – Petra (Part 2)
Day 3 – Petra (Part 1)
Day 2 – Kerak Castle
Day 1 – Lazy day
Day 0 – Arrival in Jordan

Click for more about our Jordan Itinerary

To the Biosphere…

8.58am: We enjoyed a lie-in this morning. Rather than the 7.30am starts of the past few days, today, we didn’t plan to leave until 9am – luxury! ๐Ÿ˜. The journey to the Biosphere was only an hour away and after breakfast, Eddie and our Driver met us in Reception for the journey ahead. As usual, they were early and we were soon enjoying our trip with Eddie adding to our knowledge about Jordan along the way. Today, we learned a lot about the wildlife – big and small – including their recently discovered ‘cross’ between a spider and a scorpion! Luckily, no photos here, but one to be aware of, if you’re walking this way! ๐Ÿค”

Dana BioSphere

10.12am: There was nothing on the road, and we arrived in just over the hour.

Khaled, the Bedouin

10.25am: After yesterday’s mega-walk, Ann chose to sit this one out, and so did Eddie. There are a number of different ‘trails’ available to the experienced and less-experienced – ranging from two-hour treks to ones lasting seven hours and we’d opted for the former. We were introduced to Khaled, our Guide, who we learned was a 100% Bedouin just like his father, and his father’s father and his… (well, you get the picture. I lost count after the fifth father!). He lived in the town of Dana and was fiercely proud of his upbringing. He looked and sounded the part, but although he had a smattering of around 20 languages, his conversational English skills required careful listening for fear of mis-interpreting what he was telling us.

As we began our two-hour trek, Khaled was eager to impress and began by releasing his inner Doctor Doolittle and whistling a variety of different birdsong – and the local wildlife responded! Respect! ๐Ÿ‘.

11.02am: Like many other parts of Jordan, water is a precious commodity and it’s treated with respect. Khaled pointed out the various constructions (old and new) along our route that helped to harness this resource from the mountains. He also noticed that one route was blocked and set about unblocking it with a combination of brute force and branches from a tree.

Not content with impressing us with his earlier bird imitations, we also appeared to be fluent in ‘Jordanian Goat’, managing to divert a small group of them up ahead, where at that point, we weren’t quite sure why. Moments later, we were amongst them, up close and personal and feeding them with foliage from the nearby trees. It was all a bit surreal, and it didn’t seem appropriate for me to ask if there was any wifi! ๐Ÿ˜ณ

Khaled was clearly ‘at one with nature’ and extolled the virtues of living off of herbs. He (nicely) mocked my flabby โ€œWesterners’ tummyโ€ insisting that if I kept off the burgers and consumed only sage, rosemary, thyme, mint and parsley, I could avoid the doctors for at least a whole year! Oh, and it would make my hair grow too! ๐Ÿ˜. It was a convincing pitch, and he maintained the advice of a ‘natural life’ for most of the trip.

It was about to unravel though!

As the day wore on, and it got hotter, Khaled’s stride increased whilst ours (distracted by the jaw-dropping scenery) slowed somewhat. I made a valiant effort to catch up, only to spot our Guide lighting up a Marlboro! In fact, across just the two hours, Khaled managed to get through four ciggys! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

11.10am: It seems that in Jordan, one can never have too many goats and in the distance we could see a small boy on a donkey leading a multicoloured herd. As we approached, Khaled revealed the ‘boy’ was, in fact, his son! Being a Saturday, there was no school, so he was looking after the family herd. Dad and son began bantering in the local tongue which ended with Khaled clipping his son around the ear. In the true spirit of delegation, said son then prodded the donkey who responded by galloping off (do donkeys ‘gallop’?) and the goats following. It was then that we saw that beyond the donkeys were four light-coloured dogs of varying size and breed. If Khaled hadn’t impressed us enough with his previous Doolittle impressions, he then proceeded to talk to the dogs in a ‘doggy barking voice’ (yes, really!) resulting in the dogs running after the goats and bringing them to heel. It’s a goats’ life, ehh!! ๐Ÿ˜ณ

11.35am: Some things transcend culture, class and nationality – and this was about to be one of those times. Khaled asked if ‘we fancied tea?’ Of course, the only answer was ‘yes’ and as he lit up another cigarette, with the other hand, he grabbed a small branch from the nearby tree to support the teapot (I have no idea where the pot came from!) and a few smaller twigs to make the fire. He then hastily gathered some nearby rocks and within seconds he’d had the kettle boiling. It was actually delicious, if a little sweet. So we were quite surprised when he pulled out a plastic bag full of white sugar and dumped a TABLEspoon’s worth in his son’s brew! ๐Ÿฅด. Amazingly, he enjoyed the very sweet hit! ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Tea up!
The view from Dana town

12.03pm: Well, one cup was never going to be enough (even if it was!) and after our host insisted, three cups later, we were ready for anything… (else!). We said goodbye to Khaled’s son, their 34 goats and four dogs and after more of a wander around the route, we headed back to meet up with Eddie and Ann.

12.25pm: We took a look around the town with its spectacular view across the valley and then said our goodbyes to Khaled and thanked him for his time and expert knowledge.

12.40pm: Lunch had been paid on for us, although I think we all felt – including our Guides – that it was all a bit lack-lustre.

1.35pm: Back on the shuttle-bus, we headed back to the Hotel.

2.45pm: Time for a siesta! ๐Ÿ˜ด

7.00pm: Time to head off for our very special meal.

And what an evening it turned out to be! Us, as four complete strangers invited into the home of a family we’ve never met! They cooked us a meal, arranged for a birthday cake for Ralph AND sang him happy birthday too! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

It’s actually hard to put into words how generous they were AND how welcome they made us all feel. we won’t forget this evening in a hurry! ๐Ÿ‘

10.05pm: That’s it for another day! Nighty night! ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด. We’re checking out tomorrow and heading BACK to Amman, taking in the famous Dead Sea along the way.

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