Close Encounters With HumanKind

Collecting sticks for the local community on a morning walk allowed us to introduce ourselves to a local family who invited us to their tent for tea. We gave the daughters our camera to show them where we'd been in Jordan to date - they giggled none stop at the fact we'd taken pictures of their goats.

Whilst staying at feynan EcoLodge in Wadi Dana (Jordan) we took the opportunity to wander the valley floor. We amused ourselves for an entire afternoon, tracking musical songbirds in the dry trees of the once riverbed and locating crickets in the sparse and thorny undergrowth. It was hard work and we stopped after an hour or two to rest by a lonely boulder above the desert floor and surveyed the scenery around us. We’d been so busy looking for bugs and birdlife that we’d failed to see a young girl who’d been gradually approaching us, collecting the few dry twigs she could find for firewood. I didn’t hesitate to raise my hand and offer a friendly wave – she did likewise and then continued about her business. Feeling brave, I decided to go and meet her, and Ali and I started to gather any twigs we could find, approaching her a wee while later with arms full of bundles of sticks. As we approached and held them out to her, she beamed with happiness and enthusiastically offered our gifts, thanking us over and over in Arabic. She gestured for us to follow her across the sands, and we did so, continuing to collect twigs and sticks on the way. We saw in the haze of the valley, an silhouette of a tent in the distance.

So generous, was the family of two teenage girls, one baby and the mother, that they greeted us quite literally with open arms and immediately paraded their goat through the tent and offered us its milk followed by Jordan tea. Ali and I nodded wholeheartedly, keen to experience more of the Jordanian hospitality.

Whilst enjoying the tea and cooling off in the shade of the tent during the heat of the day, we chatted on our own native languages, yet seemingly understanding each other. As comfortable in our chatter as we were in our collective silences, we got to know one another. I took the opportunity to suggest that we hand them our digital camera to show them the images we’d taken on the holiday to date. They gently took the heavy camera from us, bemused at to what was to come next. Ali showed them the screen and how to navigate the images and we took them through a little slideshow of Petra, Amman, Jerash and Wadi Rum. Their eyes widened as the pictures unfolded and then they hooted with laughter as they saw the pictures we’d taken that morning. They could not believe we’d spent the morning taking pictures of crickets, common birds and most of all, their goats – they could not stop giggling. Assuming we had some uncontrollable goat fetish, they then proceeded to introduce us to all their goats which had, by this time, surrounded the tent in curiosity. I felt almost embarrassed – but their laughter was well intended and served to break any cultural and language barriers that might have existed. We laughed together until the heat of the afternoon calmed and we bid then farewell, thanking them immensely for their generosity – and them thanking us once more for the sticks and goat pictures. As we walked away into the distance I kept turning to see the tent once more, and they’d still be stood there, waving us goodbye. They were a lovely family, so kind, so hospitable and so gentle. I felt privileged and proud to have met them. They had really ‘made’ my holiday and gave me lifelong memories, lessons and experiences to cherish.

More images from our travels to Jordan are available in our Taraji Blue Jordan photo gallery.

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