This 10 day desert expedition followed in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia from Wadi Rum to Muchawara in Jordan.
It was a 7-8 hour flight by Jordanian Airlines from Heathrow to Amman which was another great experience as I have never been on an airliner before in my life. Once we arrived, we stayed in the airport from 12 midnight to 4am. From there it was a 3 hour coach journey to the site where we would set off for to Red Sands Camp. On the way there we stopped off at a train site where one of the scenes of Lawrence of Arabia was set. Lawrence was the British RAF man in World War 1 who helped the Ararb fight against the Turks by blowing up trains on different routes to cut off supply lines and soldier transport etc. One of the main aims was to follow in his footsteps where he travelled to in the desert and to be in the place where history took place. We also stopped off at the Seven Pillars of Wisdom ay one point, an amazing sight.
When we came to our drop off point we met a man called Callide who was Egyptian but had decided to come on the expedition with us as he was a friend of Flight Lieutenant Dyer, our leader. We also met the Bedouin tribe whom we would be staying with and loaded our burgens onto their 4 by 4s. we then walked across the desert to a giant cavern- like rock where we made camp for a few hours. Callide gave us some salt to put on the back of our tongues whenever we stopped to balance the salts and sugars in the body. Tasted horrible but we needed it. The Bedouin had all their mattresses set up in a rectangular shape and normally offered us tea and biscuits which were absolutely delicious.
I have to admit, the Bedouin were by far the nicest group of people I have met in my whole life. They provided the food and drink and they were always open to conversation despite not speaking the best English. They were always smiling which made it very nice to be around them. I believe that people like the Bedouin really do appreciate people form other countries and backgrounds as they have never set foot outside Jordan, so it must have been a great honour for them to have us.
Every day once we had rested at camp we had breakfast which always consisted of pita bread, boiled eggs, assorted jams and spreads and biscuits. Lunch also included pita bread, fish, hummus salad and bananas.. Dinner, as you might guess, was pita bread, hummus and chicken and rice. You can imagine I was pretty tired of pita bread after that!
After sleeping for an hour we trekked to Red Sands Camp for a few days to train for our expedition. This consisted of orienteering, group management, kit checks as well as ways of staying healthy and hydrated. Orienteering was quite hard as there were no contour or grid lines to help us; the most we got was a satellite picture of the terrain on the route we were taking. In order to do itr properly we needed to know which rocks were big or small, how they were shaped, the colours of the sand etc. We needed to know all this in order to know where we were but thankfully we managed it without accidently crossing the border to Syria. Apparently all the rocks in Jordan used to be part of the sea bed thousands and thousands of years ago.
Within the first few days I felt a sense of what it must be like to live in Jordan ever day in such a harsh environment. The most memorable moments were when we watched the sunset go down behind the cliffs at the end of the day.
Whilst in Jordan we decided to split ourselves into small project groups each day, not just to take photos but to make a documentary about our journey including interviews with everyone about their experiences and their views on the history of Jordan. As well as this we decided to make a memorable video of our journey as well as a documentary to see both the serious and fun side of the journey.
There were some moments when people didn’t feel very good as they fell ill. However after an extremely long journey we finally made it to Mudawara. We decided to take a few group photos too and listened to some final stories about Lawrence. Everyone couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride knowing we were the first ever group of people in the world since WW1 to make the journey from Amman to Mudawara. Overall we’d done about 100K, walking about 20k each day . It was unbelievable but we’d dome it!
The next morning we made our way back top Red Sands Camp on the 4x4s whilst stopping of at some of the historic sights of the war. At the end we celebrated at the Camp, The Bedouin made us some lamb and rice, not forgetting the pita bread. It was nice to have something a bit different on the last night though. It was also our last night of sleeping under the stars, which we made the most of.
Finally in the morning we all had to wake up at 4.00 am in order to prepare ourselves to leave, have a quick breakfast and load the 4x4s. Then we drove off back to the coach and on to Amman Airport. It took us a very long time to get our places on the flight but all that mattered was that we had done what we wanted to do.
2427 (Biggin Hill Sqn) ATC