Not Wadi Mujib
Every time I text my parents “today was the best day of my life!” I turn out to be wrong after another amazing day a week later.
I’ll set the scene: a hundred feet above us, the terracotta mountains of Jordan were held back by a clear blue sky. The rock, layered from years of accumulation, looked like every stock photo that made you think “wow, that’s amazing.” As we took off our shoes, feet sore from hiking, our t-shirts dried on our backs. To our left ran the waterfall, the main attraction of our visit— as we made ourselves at home, the jingle of running water harmonized with the blare of Led Zeppelin through our speaker.
This is where I went on Saturday, in the mountains a stone’s throw away from the Dead Sea. We were brought there by Mustafa, our uber driver-turned-friend-turned-tour guide, and his friends, Omar and Muhammed. The trio, my gratitude for whom is insurmountable, led me and my seven friends through rivers and up ropes to get to the waterfall. Looking around at our little enclave, my thoughts were a surprising mixture of “how am I experiencing this” and “this weirdly reminds me of home.” With classic rock blaring— a surprising but welcome addition from Muhammed— meat cooking on a fire, and my friends laughing around me, it was just like my camping trips at home. Granted, the setting here was a bit nicer. But it was bizarre to me that two places so far from one another in both geography and similarity could give me such similar experiences.
One of the most amazing parts of our hike was that our group was completely alone. Jordan is full of amazing nature; however, unlike many of them, the trail we took was unnamed and unpublicized. No tourists (aside from the obvious eight, I guess), restrictions, or wink of capitalism. Maybe we didn’t go to Wadi Mujib, but we went to something better— something only experienced by people who knew the land.
Indeed, the people were the best part. In a city so unlike my own, I somehow found people with the same interests, plans, and ideals as me. Mustafa, Muhammed, and Omar are three of the most kind-hearted people I’ve ever met, going so far as planning a meal for us even though they were fasting for Ramadan. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my travels here, it’s that it’s not hard to find a kind soul.
People really are the same everywhere.