Wadi Araba is a section of the Jordan Rift Valley – one which separates a stretch of Israel and Jordan (Wadi means valley – Araba means dry and desolate). The day these photographs were taken I found myself facing the sun descending over Israel while my Bedouin companions alternated between relaxing and preparing an exceptional meal baked in a cut steel drum buried in the fine sand of the dune we stood upon. Continue reading
Wadi Feynan was one of the first places in the world where copper was mined and smelted by humans, which when
paired with one of the first Neolithic settlements in the world, makes Feynan an extremely important area in terms of prehistoric human development. Few places in the world can boast this sort of historical wealth – and visitors to Feynan can journey into the past with or without a guide. From the first bit of ore extracted to the collapse of the Roman Empire to the 20th century, copper mining has been a major aspect of human settlement in these valleys. Innumerable shafts have been opened, collapsed, reopened, and abandoned using a wide range of methods and technologies. Today, guests at Feynan Ecolodge have the chance to venture into the past by walking or biking to these historic sites nestled in the rocky foothills of the Dana Biosphere Reserve – and learn about their historical significance. Continue reading
Jordan is a composite of valleys and gorges, gullies and canyons, gulches and sand. Dry, warm air is blown through every nook and cranny, a stark contrast from the moist, muggy air I’ve grown accustomed to breathing in the south of India the last two years.
In fact, the only real similarity between Kerala and Jordan in my mind is how different they are (if you have been to both and think they are birds of a feather, let’s agree to disagree) – particularly climatically. I took advantage of my enhanced ability to physically exert myself without rapidly dripping sweat as often as possible during my time at Feynan; I accompanied the guides on as many activities as possible, and also did a fair bit of hiking on my own.
One of my favorite (as well as most convenient) hikes was from Feynan up the first valley to the north-east: Wadi Dana. I spent at least 24 hours walking in this valley on my own – and probably nearly that long with guides and guests. It was a boon to watch the lodge’s Bedouin guides walking through the lands they grew up in, as well as learning about the area’s natural bounties from them; every hike yielded a treasury of information on goat udder infection remedies, headache alleviation; arthritis, diabetes, and chronic headache treatments – all sourced from plants that appear to an outsider’s eyes as weeds growing from the cracks in the mountain. I learned how to sanitize my hands with “Bedouin Soap”, how to find a decent snack when feeling peckish, and what type of branch to use to make a splint if one of your goats breaks its leg (although I wasn’t taught how to actually do so, I was in someone’s tent and watched it being done), as well as several other folk remedies and fixes based on native plant life. Continue reading
A Bedouin man herds his sheep up a hill overlooking Wadi Araba, where Feynan is only barely covered by mountains. Continue reading
When I stepped into the cool morning air outside Amman’s airport two weeks ago, I knew I was in for an interesting time. For the next seven weeks I would be staying at Feynan Ecolodge as a live-in writer and photographer, spending time with Bedouin locals, adventuring through the Dana Biosphere Reserve, which was established as a protected area in 1989 by Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, and experiencing Feynan in a way few people are able to. I hope to become familiar with both the magnificently diverse geological and biological features of the area, as well as the Bedouin culture, which is as steeped in mystery to me as their chai is with sugar. Traditions and rituals, beliefs and taboos which seem impractical or unsophisticated to the Western world all have significance which might not be superficially visible. Continue reading