The story of my strange friendship with a Bedouin

She looked at me with a strange look: “so, you befriended a Bedouin?!”. She was an employee at a company where I just gave a presentation. We were having drinks after in a London pub and I had been talking about my experiences in Jordan. I had just shown here the pictures an Ammarin Bedouin, Faris, and me had been sending through and forth for the last weeks now. It had come so naturally to me that I hadn’t even bothered to tell anyone else about it, let alone write a blog post about it. But she was clearly intrigued. So this the story of my strange friendship with a Bedouin, Faris.

Meeting Faris

I had been hiking part of the Jordan Trail, a long-distance hiking trail in Jordan between Dana and Petra for more than 2 days. It had been tough. I had been ill for the first day, got lost on the second and that morning of the third day, I had just climbed out of a canyon. I was low on water and the well I just passed on the trail had dried out.

I had not seen a living person in the last 40 hours, which actually felt really cool. I had been disconnected from the world, from business, from family, from worries. And it felt strange – alone in the world.

And then I heard a loud noise.

Yelling.

Probably nothing … I walked further on the trail.

And again.

Warned by the story of a fellow traveler who had been dehydrated and had to be evacuated, I was getting worried about my own health – I didn’t see anyone on the trail – was I starting to hear things that weren’t there? Was I getting dehydrated? Did my illness take a toll?

And then, for the third time.

Someone was yelling from the canyon below. I had been walking on a ridge for a while and now someone, about 100 meters below me, was calling for me and yelled if I wanted tea.

I do not cry that often or that easily, but I teared up. Just seeing another living person, the idea of a warm tea and maybe even some water – the sheer absurdity of the moment of encountering a Bedouin in the middle of nowhere.

After he pointed out where I could best descent from the ridge to his camp, I descended into the valley.

We had tea, talked about everything from soccer to living in Jordan. Faris was part of the Ammarin tribe and together with a friend he had decided to move into another valley to enjoy the quietness in the desert.

And then he asked if I had Facebook and if he could add me. It struck me by surprise (prejudiced as I apparently was) that someone so remote in the desert would actually have Facebook as his main way of communications.

After we said goodbye and made the inevitable selfies, we parted ways. I went on to hike to the nearby city of Petra where I eventually had to cut my hike short.

My strange friendship with a Bedouin

When I was staying in Aqaba at the Intercontinental there a few days later to recover from my adventures (which was a culture shock in itself – from remote desert to luxury resort), I got my first message from Faris – “hi”.

I replied in English, he would send pictures back.

And now, for several weeks now, we have been sending pictures.

Faris sending me pictures of preparing chai tea, crops growing, the amazing views near his home.

Me sending random pictures of my daily life. My views of the green areas around Amsterdam, my breakfast, my desk at work.

A remarkable friendship with a Bedouin.

And I will be back to see him again – I promised Faris to be back in the next two years (so I will be).

Faris tent accomodates 8 (he assured me) and I had to tell all my friends about him. So here we are.

Faris, thanks for everything. You’re the best.

When you have an open mind, when you’re unprepared, leave expectations at home, you experience more. That is omakase traveling.

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