Mastering the desert is its emptiness, its beauty, and the tranquility of another world, tweeting our Jordanian companions. He leads us from the brightly lit Bedouin camp and is the remnant of a gorgeous Arabian Nights banquet.

The black sky is studded with a million glittering stars, the air is cold and fragrant, but my pashmina has a faint goat scent. Shuffle in the soft sands of Wadiram, which seems to stretch infinitely, here in southern Jordan. Scorpions are sleeping, we’re sure, and their distant howls are Bedouin dogs excited about the supper scraps they’re hoping for-not the wolves roaming these parts.

On a plateau overlooking a valley surrounded by a haunted silhouette of towering sandstone walls, we lie on our backs in a circular motion, listening to silence in this vast outdoor dormitory.

Immortalized 60 years ago in a David Lean movie Lawrence of ArabiaWadi Ram was “a vast, reverberant, god-like” by real-life adventurer, archaeologist, and military strategist TE Lawrence who fought with the Arab guerrilla army against the Ottoman overlord. There is. “

He fled to England with his family governor, Sarah Junner, the son of Sir Thomas Chapman in Delvin, Westmeath, who was named Lawrence. TE was sitting on my grandmother’s Mantel Peace. Pierce Joyce in the arms of my grandma’s first cousin.

My grandmother Nora (maiden name Joyce) Divine was proud to punch the family connection with the legendary Arabian Lawrence.

In the photo, handsome Pierce Joyce, a senior Connaught Rangers official born and raised in Marview, Galway, wears an Arab headdress fastened with a goat’s hair strap. It provided some protection during frequent dazzling sandstorms.

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Wadiram night desert sky.Photo by Jordan Tourism Board

In my childhood eyes, Joyce was as impressive as the much smaller figure in the flowing white Arab robe.

Standing almost 6 feet 4 inches, Pierce Joyce stood above Lawrence 5 feet 5 inches (although he was an Oscar-winning epic movie by Peter O’Toole 6 feet 2 inches. Was played).

The life of a fluent Arabic-speaking cousin Pierce can be read like a Kipling story. He was seriously injured during the Boer War and was bravely decorated in Egypt, Sudan and other campaigns. There he was charged with a fraudulent elephant. He was a key figure in bringing Arab leaders to the British side, serving as political adviser to Emile Faisal (later the king of Syria and Iraq) for some time, and in 1920 Joyce became governor of Luxor. ..

TE Lawrence was a camel expert, but his fellow Goalway-born comrades only reluctantly carried a “desert ship when all other means of transportation were not possible.”In his work Seven pillars of wisdomLawrence explained that camels travel through the savage and beautiful landscapes of Wadiram.

He was boldly done by the Arab Army to “plant tulips” (codenamed explosives) along the Hejaz Railway to confuse the Ottoman Empire, a German enemy ally during World War I. He talks about a bold attack.

My grandma appreciated her first edition With Lawrence of Arabia According to American newspaper reporter Lowell Thomas. The book contains a photo of her first cousin, dedicated the chapter “To Joyce & Co”, and at the first meeting Joyce considered Lawrence to be “messy, opinionative, bumpy” and ” I cut his hair to him. “

When I lie in the darkness and silence of the desert, my thoughts are directed at my grandma’s cousin. He knew this huge lonely terrain of huge sandstone and would have been surprised at the tent at night-very different from the sky in his youthful Goalway.

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Overlooking the Jerash Amphitheater.Photo by Jordan Tourism Board

I’m on a five-day adventure devised by Nebo Tours (nebotours.com) In Jordan’s Hashemit Kingdom, there is a magnificent array of historical and cultural sites and landscapes. Travel can easily include all the important highlights given the short travel times between them.

Our journey begins in Amman, the capital of Jordan. Overlooking the ancient minaret and gleaming modern offices of this beautiful city, the Grand Hyatt Hotel is an hour’s drive north to Gerash to explore one of the world’s most important Roman sights. I have little time to look at the luxurious environment of the hotel.

This ancient city was once lost to the world and was buried in the sand of the desert by a series of earthquakes. It was only rediscovered in 1806, and many of the Greco-Roman buildings still remain.

Visit the South Theater, an arch of numerous stone seats. This seems to be the realm of two bagpipe players who are retired from the Jordanian Army today. They wheeze impressive versions of “Scotland the Brave” and “Auld Lang Syne”.

Returning to the bustling Amman, home to half of Jordan’s 10 million population, the rush hour traffic in the afternoon before Ramadan is crowded with colorful and chaotic stalls.

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The ancient city of Jerash.Photo by Jordan Tourism Board

Kamil Sawalha, Sales and Marketing Director at Nebo Tours, jokes: “

But there is little to worry about. Leaving the city and moving south, there are few cars. Before sunset, we dashed to reach the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea. Arriving just in time to swim in one of the huge infinity pools at the Kempinski Hotel. The sun is a fiery red-orange sphere that disappears beyond the hills of Jerusalem.

Jordan has always been a religious pilgrimage site, and one of its sacred sites, Mount Nebo, is said to be the burial ground of Moses. Today, the Franciscan church is the caretaker of the place. Looking at Jericho in a distant valley, Kamil says: “Jordan is at the crossroads of faith, culture and civilization. It’s a peaceful oasis in the desert of modern anxiety.”

“A quiet house in a noisy area,” Jordan is a peaceful, open-minded, forgiving land, “he adds. , Christian students eat lunch far away from their fasting Muslim friends – don’t be offended or offer temptation.

And Christian cafes and restaurants in towns and elsewhere regularly place food and water for fasting Muslims to take “Iftar.” This is a meal that ends the fasting period at sunset every night.

Madaba’s Hikayet Sitti Food Basket restaurant has yet another great feast – Jordan is famous for its cuisine – have lunch with delicious Metze and Mansaf local dishes (with lamb cooked with fermented yogurt, rice and pine nuts). increase.

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Wadiram camel.Photo by Jordan Tourism Board

This is an ancient land. Nabatea merchants, Roman legionaries, Muslim troops, crusades – they all go through what we now call Jordan, leaving behind spectacular monuments and other memories of the past.

Countless camel caravans carry valuable cargo of incense, gold, spices, ivory and silk along the Kings Highway. We follow it and lead us to Jordan’s most precious treasure, Petra, the jewel of the crown of the kingdom.

With 1 million visitors in 2019 alone, Covid has since devastated those who depend on the wonders of the world for their livelihoods. Sightseeing is back, but it’s slow.

Petra is the pinnacle of Jordan’s experience, and nothing completely prepares you for the mysterious sight of a hidden city carved from sandstone thousands of years ago. After reaching the end of Siq, a narrow canyon surrounded by cliffs 80 meters high, guide Wael Amira directs you to walk a few steps back and then look back.

Suddenly, the famous Treasury appears. It’s a creation of splendor that makes you taste the magical moments and be ridiculed.

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Treasury in Petra, Jordan-Al Khazneh-.Photo by Jordan Tourism Board

North of Petra, just off the Kings Highway, is an impressive location reminiscent of Shobak Castle, the glory of the former Crusaders dating back to the 12th century. Daytime hikes have to wait for future visits to Jordan, as the night has already fallen like a heavy blanket on the chest wall.

The capture of Shobak from the Ottoman garrison in October 1917 was one of Pierce Joyce and the Arab Army’s most famous achievements and military victories. Joyce commanded a bold assault and solidified his position as one of the most important officers in the desert campaign alongside Lawrence and Faisal.

Importantly, Joyce also showed his humanity when he finally led the fighter out of Shobak to avoid Ottoman retaliation against the locals.

“Joyce was a person who could rest against the world, a calm, unchanging, comfortable spirit.”

Certainly highly rated – and it came from none other than Lawrence himself in Arabia Seven pillars of wisdom..

Get there

  • Isabelle is Turkish Airlines (turkishairlines.com) And Nebo Tour (nebotours.com). Turkish Airlines is returning from Aqaba and flying from Dublin to Amman via Istanbul. The economy starts from 528 euros (tax included). Business class from € 1,369.
  • Accommodation: Grand Hyatt Amman (hyatt.com); Kempinski in the Dead Sea and Aqaba (kempinski.com); Old Village Resort Wadi Musa (oldvillageresort.com); Saraya Tent Camp Wadiram (sarayarum-jo.com).
  • look visitjordan.com The Jordan Classic Tour of Sunway in September starts at € 1,998 pp based on two shares with the Nebo Tour, including flights, transfers, 7 nights B & B, meals and tours. sunway.ie

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