Manna in Dana
Dana Travel Blog› entry 6 of 15 › view all entries
We arose Sunday morning feeling recharged and ready for a challenging hike we had arranged. Today's conquest was Shaq Ar-Resh in Wadi Dana. This time my attempt to secure a reservation with a RSCN guide went noticed, because at check-in in the night before we were asked if we minded sharing our guide with a group of young people, who also wanted to do the hike today. Of course we agreed and looked forward to meeting everybody after breakfast.
But the buffet breakfast wasn't served until 8:30AM at the Guest House, so Mark and I walked up to the splendid porch to revel in the sun washing over the wadi. As we made our way towards the porch, everyone we passed was toting a coffee cup, but we couldn't discover the source despite searching high and low.
Right after breakfast we hooked up with Tayseer, our RSCN guide and five others - four Americans attending college studies in Amman (all studying Arabic!) and a girl from Ireland who was on an extended backpack adventure. Again we were driven to the trailhead and started marching down into the wadi. At the very beginning Tayseer pointed to a triplet of stone pillars with a narrow streak of green between the two on the right. He explained that the word Shaq was similar to Siq and meant 'crack' --- and we would be scaling that green crack to reach the tops of those stone pillars!
As always, the course wasn't nearly as difficult as first glimpse might suggest.
Up on top, Tayseer showed us where the Nabateans had ground channels into the rocks to channel rainwater into their cisterns. The combination of natural beauty with ancient history made this hike one of my all-time favorites. During our frequent breaks, Tayseer (who is attending college in pursuit of a joint degree in IT and English) educated us about the bountiful flora and fauna all around. It was a splendid time, enhanced by spirited conversation with our college kids.
The gang was returned to Dana around 2:30PM, and after a (buffet) lunch, Mark and I walked next door to investigate the village of Dana. Sadly, it was as miserable as it appeared, but the spirit of the people who had returned was inspiring. Though few spoke any English, we were greeted and smiled upon, with one father laughingly thrusting his baby into my arms and gesturing for Mark to take a picture! It was a sweet moment and I played with the baby until he had a really good grip on my ball cap and daddy took him back.
They say Dana has been brought back to life, but it still needs a strong life support system. We concluded our tour with a stop at the gift shop back on the Guest House grounds, where I bought some jewelry for my wife that had been made by one of the villagers.
Back at our balcony, the Spite & Malice contest resumed and I scored a couple quick victories to knot the series, only to lose a marathon match that made us late for dinner. Mark was the Dana champion.
After dinner we strapped on our head lamps and navigated a foot path back over to the village to stop by the Tower Hotelfor a nightcap (of tea). Though pretty beat up, we found the Tower Hotel charming, especially its spacious majilis on the second floor. Our hiking buddies were all staying here, and we were glad to see them enjoying card games too! Unfortunately they only served sweet tea, so Mark got mine and we left, but not before I bumped into the woman I had stood in line with trying to clear luggage at JFK.
Before bed time each night I would refill my water bottles and add water purification tablets so everything is ready for the next day. Thus far I have always used tap water and no Montezuma's revenge, so I am pleased that I am not buying any bottled water (they don't recycle plastic in Jordan). But tonight both of the shared men's rooms were locked (there is a single shower in each bathroom, explaining the locked doors), so when I returned to our room Mark suggested I go up to the kitchen. After all, our coffee discovery validated that it isn' locked and there is a tap there. So I hoofed upstairs and knocked out of courtesy before walking in. When I entered, there were several guys in there doing dishes and I naively stated that I just wanted some water.