I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

The gray sky is the giveaway -- this is the real Mars, not the Jordanian impostor.

From our old friend the Curiosity Rover, a panorama from within Gale Crater, looking across a dune field at the slopes of Mount Sharp.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

A last look at Wadi Rum

Sunday bird blogging

Unfortunately I couldn't get closer to this gorgeous bird -- a glossy ibis in Keoladeo National Park.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Bubble tents

These Space Age tents are designed for stargazing, so I'm glad I didn't waste money on an upgrade -- I loved my little pointed tent with the rugs and draperies, and there weren't any stars to be seen anyway.

But they do look very cool against the mountains in the morning fog.

Morning in the desert

I'd really wanted to see the stars in Wadi Rum, but it started to get overcast as soon as it was dark, and they were only bright glimpses behind the clouds.

The next morning it was drizzly and gray, and the rain on the stone made bright colors under the dim sky.

Evening view from my tent


This is my tent in the  camp in Wadi Rum where I spent the night.

The toilets were a five-minute walk away, which was fun at 4 o'clock in the morning when it was pitch black dark and way below freezing.

Fortunately the tents had heaters, and fur throws to pile on the bed and thick Bedouin robes to wear. And the beds had carved headboards and embroidered pillows and silky draperies. So I wasn't exactly roughing it.

In fact it was so warm and comfortable that I fell asleep and missed dinner.

Not the Lawrence Train

This train is actually parked at the train station just outside Wadi Rum, but since I was writing about Lawrence of Arabia, it's on topic. 

I don't think they do it anymore, but this train, a replica of the old trains that used to travel through the desert here (complete with a red Turkish flag, which you can just see at the back of the picture on the right) was used for re-enactments of the famous train battle scene in the movie. Just in case you've ever fantasized about being attacked by Bedouins while you were minding your own business on a train. 

Now if I got to be one of the Bedouins doing the attacking, that might be fun.

Lawrence House

Not exactly a house -- actually ruins around an old Nabataean cistern -- but T.E. Lawrence probably stayed here at some point during the Arab revolt and so it is now and forever named for him. Along with a large puddle known as Lawrence's Spring, and a rock formation near Wadi Rum Village called the Seven Pillars of Wisdom after Lawrence's famous book (I counted only four and a half pillars myself.)

Supposedly the movie Lawrence of Arabia was the reason tourists started visiting Jordan in large numbers, but it's odd that in such a beautiful place, in a region not lacking in history, so much fuss is still made over a random Englishman who did not actually look much like Peter O'Toole.

Saturday reflections

I've been sidelined by a cold that hung around, off and on, for weeks, before taking up happy long-term residence in my lungs. I'm much better, though still in that awful state where I dread the bouts of coughing just because every muscle in my body is already sore from it.

But I do intend to finish up Jordan this weekend if I can. This picture was taken in the side mirror on the highway between Wadi Rum and Amman, where the off ramps led to Saudi Arabia and Iraq to the right, and Syria lay straight ahead. Jordan is a beautiful, peaceful country, but the neighbors suck.

And now the new travel restrictions are going to strangle tourism there even more. Amman is one of the cities where you now have to check laptops and cameras if you're flying to the U.S. (Since Britain is going to apply the same restrictions, I'm going to give our government the benefit of the doubt and assume there is some good reason for this -- the reasoning they gave, of insufficient security in these airports, is laughable.)

I'm not going to put my camera and lenses and laptops into checked luggage; they're far too expensive and fragile. You can get around the restrictions for now simply by doing what I did -- changing planes in Paris or some other European city that's not London on the way home. But for people who won't or can't do that, it will be just one more reason not to visit one of my favorite destinations ever.

And that's a shame.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

As I'm coming to the end of the Jordan postings, here's a return to the standard blogging schedule: a lovely picture of a storm on Jupiter, courtesy of the Juno probe.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Life on Mars, part 2

This is probably my favorite panorama (after this one.)

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