Saturday, October 11, 2008

Portrait #54: Water (part 1)

I seem to be on a new trend of portraiting inanimate objects instead of people! I've really been noticing lately how material things reflect the humanity that surrounds them. (Also, for legal-confidentiality issues, it would be inappropriate to portrait many of the most interesting people I've been meeting lately.)

Yesterday, I got my first taste of Jordanian ecotourism. I had heard that the Jordanian government had set up some nature reserves and then set up eco-friendly facilities on those reserves in order to attract campers and hikers and the like to visit. This way, they could make some bucks, look good in the international community, and actually hopefully do something good for the environment. So, one of my goals for my time in Jordan was to check out some of these much-heralded nature reserves.

When my friends told me of a gorge hike being planned for this weekend in Wadi Mujib, I was all aboard. It was a fascinating experience, literally wading through a river for several hours in breathtaking scenery, and at one point even rapelling down a waterfall and trekking through some rapids. And I learned some things about Jordan in the process:

1. Understatement is to be expected.
2. Safety is of secondary concern.
3. Environmental preservation can only happen to the extent that everyone is still fat, dumb and happy.
4. I still have a phobia of drowning.

Now, in a bit more detail:

When I asked my friends what to bring, they said to bring clothes and shoes that "I didn't mind getting a bit wet." Then, when we showed up at the nature centre to head out on our trek, our guide reiterated that we should be aware that our bags would probably get somewhat wet and that our clothes and shoes would get wet. Well, I had my waterproof shoes on, and shared a backpack with some friends in which we put nothing but food and a waterproof bag containing some valuables including a camera. This seemed like more than enough precaution based on the warnings we had received.

The shoes I brought were not made for hiking, so today I have the biggest blisters on my feet that I think I've ever had. And in fact, my shoes almost fell off several times during the trek. Nonetheless, I am SO glad I brought my waterproof shoes as opposed to trainers/sneakers, which is what most people in our group wore. It would have ruined my running shoes! Because within five minutes, our feet were completely soaking wet. Walking on dry land was the exception, not the rule on this trip. The first few hours were half land half river. The rest of the day was all river, ranging from ankle deep to waist deep. There was a section where we actually had to swim.

It wasn't just the shoes. Everything in our bags was soaking wet quite early on, and neither our bags nor our clothes even approached dryness for the rest of the day. Good thing the temperature was pleasant! Had I been formulating the instructions, however, instead of saying "Wear and bring things you don't mind getting wet", I probably would have said, "Do not bring or wear anything at all that you mind being soaking wet for several hours on end!" Good thing the waterproof bags worked and the camera survived!

I will post the rest tomorrow...

1 comment:

Katharine said...

Wow! Sounds like quite a day. I can't wait to hear about the rest of it!!

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