Tag Archives: #Jordan

Meeting with the horses in Wadi Rum

Mehemmak, Barq, Theeb Abiat enjoying the desert of Wadi Rum, JordanOne year after my best friend Ahmad had gone I made it to move to the Wadi Rum. It was impossible to leave his father. But there were other forces working to take the decission from my hands. Every year I visit the Netherlands to see my family and friends. This time I wanted to stay one month with them to have more time to see my friends who I was not able to visit or to see before. Going back to Jordan, as usual my suitcase was too small to bring all the presents but especially the horse equipment I purchuaged from the Netherlands on behalf of the horses in the desert who were coming one by one. The first time I needed to travel with two suitcases and from then it would happen all the time like this.

No welcome home

When I came back in the home of grandfather, the family of his other son stayed with him. They didn’t tell me but I got indications that I was too much in the home. They didn’t let me to take care of their father and the only work that was left was cleaning the home. I understood the message and asked Abdullah to look out for a home for me in his village at the border of the Wadi Rum desert. Since Ahmad left us he invited me many times to come over and to be a guest in the camp, where he kept the horses. He showed me some homes. The first without kitchen…, the second almost casco and the last with broken and missing windows. I choose the last one. Knowing it needed some reparations. As it was still summer, the broken windows were not the biggest problem. I decided to move in after the Islamic sacrifise feast but it turned out better to move as soon as possible. A small truck came which was too small to move at once all the stuff but in three times everything was in the new house. No space left to sleep as the home was not too big. Abdullah helped me to make a bed outside, I was too tired to move myself again. And slept in the open garden with the Saluki of Ahmad next to me on a rope.

2 Salukis, Jordan Wadi RumA very nice welcome from the kids but not really

First thing in the morning is to make a screen at the open space to keep the dog inside. But there were many kids around who came by to have a look at the dog as a dog in the home is not usual in Arabic countries. And they started to trow stones at her which made her scared and angry in the same time. We needed to close the garden, then she would be safe. As Abdullah also had a Saluki I asked him to bring his dog as well to have company for both of us. Wurad came after two days, from the first moment the two dogs liked each other and Warda had immediately her period. It was a big feast together. To have some rest I kept the girl in the home and the boy outside. Soon the men made a door in the garden and added some stones extra on the wall to keep the dogs inside. But still the children kept on throwing stones over the wall. I went several times to them to ask to stop it as the dogs didn’t like them for this and that they made me very angry doing this after several warnings. I cleaned up the garden of all stones, but still. Needed to be creative to find a solution.

Meanwhile I went with the dogs to the camp and to the horses. It’s about 4 kilometers walking and Salukis need many exercise. They didn’t need a leash, only to go from the home as they would chase the kids. They knew exactly who trow the stones to them. A Saluki is such a friendly dog, also with children. But once they are not good to the dog they’ll remember.

The arrival of the horses in Wadi Rum

The three horses are fine. Mehemmak, Barq and Theeb. I’m so happy to live close to them now. Every day I can walk to the camp to see them, for grooming, petting, conversations, treats.

Jordan, Wadi Rum, MehemmakMehemmak

First meeting with Mehemmak

Mehemmak, my special horse. Never I’ve seen a character like him. The first time I refused to ride him. He was too skinny, too grumpy, he didn’t look like a horse. On his hip a big black scabby spot without hair. Not a horse to be proud of. But, as I was the lightest weight I had to ride on him as no other horse available at that moment for the up coming tour. So I went on him, careful not to harm him. He was not the most comfortable horse to ride on. He did everything I asked him to do, without complain or not knowing what to do. The horses got the best food during the tour. But it was impossible for me to approach him. With much creativity and tricks the men could saddle him to make him ready for me to ride on him. Once I was on his back in the saddle I could pet him. He was never scared of my hands. Nor from other things on the road. Every time when we had a very nice ride. He loved all paces, was never tired, he just went. He loves the desert,later I found out that after on time been there he knows the road everywhere. After the tour the horse went back to his owner. While I went back home to the other village.

Horse riding in Wadi Rum, with Abdullah and BrendaSecond meeting with Mehemmak

After two weeks Abdullah called me. He could buy Mehemmak. It would become his first horse ever. He didn’t even know how to ride a horse although he was with us with all our horse riding tours. Abdullah asked me to teach him horse riding very well. A new opportunity for me. But first of all he asked me if it was a good idea to buy Mehemmak. I told him only, if you can, don’t even think but take him. I knew that he would be in very good hands with Abdullah. He would never abuse a horse even when it was the most difficult and grumpy horse. He would get the best treatment, the best food, always water and me. Abdullah took me from the other village to take care for Mehemmak. His name means ” Don’t’t worry” . The best name for him because once you were riding him you did’t need to worry about anything. He knows how to behave, he knows the road, he is taking care for other horses, he takes even care for the people around him on a horse. He knows where the car with all the stuff for camping, water and food is hiding. He knows where to find water in the desert. As I was riding on him, accompanied by Abdullah in the car, we had fun.

Getting to get used to each other

Part by part I started to groom him. He didn’t like in the first moment but when Abdullah was holding him and talking to him I was able to brush him. We washed him with water and shampoo. He got used to be in the hands of people. I still didn’t walk with him on a rope as he was too strong. But after a while he accepted me complete while I could walk with him on a rope. Once he knew we wouldn’t take him out to abuse him but only for nice things he started to like, he became easier. Mehemmak was our rescue horse. Although I tried to put some ointment or oil on his abused big spot he still didn’t want us to touch him there. But after a while we could carefully put some treatment. Abdullah didn’t want me to go alone as he was careful with me too. The desert is an open area and you never know what will happen.

Wadi Rum, the horses have free time in the desertNever alone

Once I went all by myself. I told Abdullah where I would go. As every time I went out for a ride there were a few birds flying with me. Who were playing in the air with each other. Coming to the horse and me, very closeby. And they stayed flying around us. The ears of Mehemmak were following the birds. I was looking to them knowing this had a special meaning. The birds were telling many stories and we were part of it. I knew, I could feel that Ahmad was with me. That it was his wish that I would live in the Wadi Rum, with the horses. Often he came to me, always when I was on a horseback. One time he took his mum also with him. That was a vey warm meeting as she was a Bedouin woman who knew more than what you can see with your eyes. Sometimes I was crying when I could feel them so nearby. In the same time so happy that they were still with me. Knowing I made the right choices. And Mehemmak knew. He understood.


One time Abdullah asked me to go in another direction with Mehemmak into the desert because he had a surprise for me. I went, all the time looking for his car. And there he was, accompanied by another horse, with a Bedouin I didn’t know on his back. Abdullah was very excited asking me what I thought of this horse. If I wanted to see how he was walking, trotting and canter. I saw immediately that this was not just a horse. He was very passionate, his tail high in the wind. His head high, jumping from standing to gallop. His name Barq, which means the lightening of the thunder. He lived up his name. What a beauty, what a temperament. What a stallion. We ride up together, I could feel the tension in the body of Barq. Mehemmak was quiet as usual. Doing whatever you ask him to do. Watching curious to the other horse. Abdullah told me that Barq would come in a few days to us if I agree to having him in the new herd of horses. I became very excited, a new horse, with two horses it starts to become something real. My dream to be surrounded by horses.

Jordan, Wadi Rum, BarqBarq

Barq came the same day… it was almost sunset and started to be a bit chilly. I saw Barq coming with the Bedouin I still didn’t know. Barq was wet all over his body. As if he had been galopping through the whole desert. The Bedouin dismounted and I took the horse over from him. I was angry, why the horse was wet all over from sweat, it seemed almost a different horse as I had seen earlier that day. But it was still the same horse. I walked rounds with him to step him dry. There was something with his leg. We checked but at first could’nt find anything. I kept on walking with Barq on a rope. We put a blanket on his back, I was afraid he would catch cold with all the sweat on him. His head down while I was still walking. Another check of his legs. One was sensitive and in the end we found something different than the other leg. But could not see any cause why. Abdullah insisted to let him stay from this day with us and with Mehammak but he was not happy. There was something with him that gave him pain. Fortunately there was a guest in the camp who was a veterinarian. She was from the UK, living in Zimbabwe and with her husband and little boy on holiday in the camp. We had made a jeep tour with them that afternoon. We asked her to have a look as well at the horse. She told us that maybe there was something inside his leg causing the pain. He needed a certain type of antibiotics and we needed to give him salt baths. Abdullah and me went to find the medicine but it was hard to find. Not the one she prescribed was available in Jordan. Barq and Brenda, Wadi Rum, JordanTogether with the pharmacist we did some research to find something equal and gave it to Barq, while treating him with salt baths several times. Every day I tried to take him for a small walk by hand but he could not even move forward. He was so sad, he didn’t know us well, didn’t know if he liked it with us. He saw the other horse Mehemmak but had not yet a connection with him. He was in pain. After a few days, when we saw the medicine didn’t work out Abdullah asked a Bedouin to have a look at the horse’s leg. The Bedouin found out there was possible something inside and put some Bedouin medicine (herbs) on the leg. It didn’t work out to make Barq better. Another Bedouin came by with Abdullah. They made a cut in his leg. They found a small piece of wood, with infection. Complete under his skin. They treated the wound well, the next day already Barq started to look better, his eyes were bright and shiny and he could walk! Very careful, but he moved. For 10 days we walked with him by hand. I didn’t want anybody riding on him till he was complete recovered.

Vanaf dat moment had ik een speciale band met Barq. Nu wist hij dat we hem alleen maar zouden helpen. Hij was nog zo jong. Nauwelijks drie jaar.

Theeb AbiatTheeb

Theeb came. His name changed in Theeb Abiat, the white wolf.
Suddenly he was there, while I didn’t know. Quite a big and full horse. The Bedouin were playing with him because he could jump and stand on his back feet with his fore feet high in the sky. After I asked Abdullah from where he had the horse he told me from another village, but originally from Aqaba where he was pulling the carriage with 6 heavy people. Now I understood why he was so strong. They wanted me to ride him to hear my thoughts. I already saw he was very obsessed by food. He loved to find food in the rubbish bins and I knew he lacked good food. He used to eat everything you gave him. Even rice with vegetables. But he also ate the food, hay and barley what we gave him. He was a fast eater and didn’t allow anyone near him if he was eating his food. We improvisised a martingale to prevent him from jumping high during the tour with Abdullah and me. I went on Theeb to see his behaviour while riding on him. He is such a beauty, very fotogenique. Once on his back I noticed he was not so used to have a rider on him. He didn’t response to my helps well. He was delivered without any usersguide so I had to teach him and find out what he already knew. He was very good in walking backwards and jumping high once you touched the reins to make little contact with his mouth. Pushing him in trot or canter didn’t work out at all. But he reacted when I let him feel the reins on his neck. He loves it when you are working with him, eager to learn. First he needed to learn to react on soft hands and legs as I noticed he had learned everything the hard way. He was not able to walk close to another horse. He wanted to move them away by kicking them. So I kept him at the back. Also easier for him to see other horses react while I gave him the right helps. Once he reacted better I took him as the leader but that didn’t work out well. He wanted to see the other horses and pretended he was scared from anything in the road. I approached him to walk to what he thought would be scary, he noticed he couln’t come away by standing still or jumping once he saw something. He loves the desert and wanted to be as the other horses. He protected his sensitivety with behaving very bold. A horse that is very sensitive but with a small heart and strong muscles. Now he is a very lovely horse to ride. He feels the experience of the people on him. Is very careful with beginners while an experienced rider can do anything on him. We even let him go walking everywhere, even in the front with guests as long as he stays five meters from the other horses. He will not start anything by himself, if he walks as the leader he will not go more than ten meter before the other horses.

Wadi Rum, Abdullah with Mehemmak and Theeb AbiatWe love all the horses, appreciate they have such different characters. They’re all easy to ride if the rider is relaxed. We see that many people over estimate themselves as it comes to riding skills. Knowing our horses very well and just notice the combination with the rider, all the horses tell us the exact level of the rider.

Next time I will tell about making a bond with your horse to work as a team.

If you like to know where I am now and what I do, visit our website Jordan Desert Journeys. Or connect to me on facebook.

I’m writing a book now about my desert life in Jordan. With many more stories, check it on the fb page: Een leven in de woestijn.


Without horse, she didn’t survive, with a truck with my personal stuff I managed to come in Quwayra, a non touristic village on the Desert Highway, north of Aqaba.

Emotional broken, psychologically a wreck, physically very fragile, weighing not even 50 kilos with a length of 1.80 meter. But so happy I managed. Although with the help of the Embassy of the Netherlands who understood the importance and danger I was in, in Petra.

New life

Ready for a canter? At Wadi RumThe welcome was so warm in Ahmad’s home. They took me by my hand to the grandparents who life on the same courtyard. Immediately the grandmother took my hand and ordered me to sit next to her. She kept my hand repeating habibti, habibti, habibti. Meaning my love. The grandfather was looking at us with tears in his eyes. Without telling anything they knew what had happened. I was full of stress since long. I used my last strength to take all my stuff and to leave everything behind to not look back anytime again. Anxious about life, people, but I was safe. I came into a strong Bedouin family, they would protect me. Their first warning was not to leave the courtyard. In Jordan the law is different. A husband can come to take his runaway wife to take her home again. I didn’t matter, I was in a safe place, the courtyard was big. They had a small room for me and I put most of my stuff inside to make it comfortable. It was the second of January, winter in Jordan. All asked me to dress up for winter but I came from such a cold area without love that I only felt the warmth of a loving family The house was full with kids, all of them came in a different way to me to show their love. They didn’t want me to do anything, but I insisted to help in the kitchen and in the home, as I could not concetrate to do anything extra on the laptop.

Between animals

My salvation was a young puppy, a Saluki, Warda. I started to pet her and to take care for her. She came just a few days before me, too young. We became friends, a dog is the best friend if you have to recover. With her I went to the courtyard in the evening when the kids were sleeping and the place was empty. Except the goats who were in their own space. With their funny heads and penetrating eyes. Before I left to Petra it was on this courtyard that I showed my horse to the family. The grandmother chose her name, Samiha. Back here I could mourn about her. I missed her, she would have loved it to be in this place again.

Horse riding in Wadi Rum

Horseback riding in Wadi RumSoon I would be on a horse again. Someone would come for a horse riding tour of five days in March. Alone, as she had started to ride horseback in her fifties. This was a dream for her, a challenge to proof that she could do this. I accepted her to make a private tour. Ahmad and me went to Wadi Rum, to meet his friend Abdullah. The one who is always organizing our tours in the desert. He would take care to rent horses from Petra as he didn’t have horses yet. Only the knowledge that the horses would come from Petra with someone to groom them gave me the creeps. But I had to go through those encounters to become strong again. I was looking forward to ride on a horse again.

Excited to meet the horses

Enjoying a ride in Wadi RumOur guest arrived, I had invited someone else to join us who was already in Jordan. Who loves horses and horse riding as she told me and as I could see on her pictures.  We went to take the horses after their arrival from the truck. Ahmad and Abdullah were there to help. From the road we went to the camp, where we would stay another day. The three of us on a horse. The  horse of the one I had invited, let’s call her Claire was so excited to see the sand that he wanted to roll. Claire could step off easily. Ahmad wispered in my ears that she could not ride so well as she had explained to me. I kept this saying with me with hesitation to accept. We would see. I gave more instructions to form a group and how to deal with those horses who were also new for me. They guy from Petra gave me the big stallion as a leader. He was kind and nice to ride on. Did everything wht I asked him. My focus was on the guest, how she would go as she was excited and a bit anxious in the same time. We gave her the mare.


On the road, Wadi Rum on horsebackAfter lunch we went for a longer tour to get known to the horses well. In advance I told them to stay in line behind me. First the next stallion, the mare in the back. I made sure the riders heard and understood this order. Claire didn’t follow up and I saw her coming to ride next to me. Always I look at the whole combination, how is the horse dealing with the rider and vice versa. But this time something strange happened. I saw the eyes of Claire. She was not Claire at that moment. Her eyes were in a kind of trance, as if she was hypnotized or wanted to hypnotize me. A pale shine came from her eyes as you see in cartoons, it took me just a second to understand what she was doing. You don’t expect those things in real time. Immediately I feld the horses were not at ease anymore. I turned my horse back from her, he still accepted my orders but was not relaxed. The mare with the guest, although a bit further made a jump. The guest fell off and lay on the ground. Her horse gone. I jumped off my horse to run to her with his reigns in my hand.  I was able to take the mare who didn’t know where to go by her reigns. Shouting to Claire to move from us. But instead she came closer, very well knowing what she was doing as still her eyes were so strange. I will never forget those eyes. Her horse was again next to me. He wanted to kick my horse, instead the mare wanted to bite him but by accident she bite in my arm. I left the horses free, knowing they were too excited now. Before I did I shouted to Claire to come down. But she didn’t. Safety of the guests is first in every tour. I had to choose between two worse scenarios and I let the horses free knowing that Claire didn’t step off. But I had to see the guest who was still lying on the ground. Noticing the other horses, the horse of Claire also wanted to join them. Only at that moment she jumped from her horse. She was prepared to fall and it seemed she went well. The horses went immidiately, running and jumping to discharge their energy far away.


Spring, a green desert, Wadi RumMy guest seemed very shocked. After I asked her how she was I asked her to move her limbs one by one. It seemed good. She could move. The following car came by with the three men. They wanted to take her to the hospital. But she said she was fine. Then I dared to ask if she wanted to ride on a horse again. A possitive answer. But she needed time. I gave her a massage of her back before she stood up. Meanwhile an eye on Claire who still was on the ground. She had asked the man to bring her bag from the car. Inside she had a first aid kit with needles for accupuncture. She was studying to become an accupuncturist. As she knew I know the points as well she asked me to put the needles. But I refused as I was too confused what was happening with her. Beside something inside me gave me instruction not to do this. She put the needles herself, we were just looking at her because she didn’t answer our questions. Only then I took off my pullover to have a look at my wound. When the Bedouin Ahmad and Abdullah saw this they couldn’t believe. Abdullah tol me I’m a real Bedouin. Wounded in the fight and first take care of the others. It was a big wound, the teeth prints of the horses very clear vissible and bleeding. We cleaned it as we always have a first aid kit as well for people as well for horses with us. They dressed my wound and brought us back to the camp.

Wild horses

Water in the desert after the rains. Wadi RumThe men found back the horses and brought them back. The 2 women didn’t want to ride this day. I asked Claire to just sit on a horse after her jumping of as she didn’t tell us she wanted to continue or not. She did, although a bit scared but at least she was on a horseback that we kept by hand. I decided that the man from Petra and me would take the two stallions to canter with them through the desert to loose some energy. In my eyes they were perfect to ride but just in case to have them calm for the next day. It was a perfect ride. The horses and us were enjoying the moment. Every step they made was a good one. They didn’t think about what happened before.

End good, all good

The horses are arriving in Wadi RumMy guest and me started the next morning together with the horse boy as Claire din’t want to ride. Abdullah whispered in my ear that she didn’t have anything but just was not able to ride as well as she had spoken before. I insist her to stay with us to enjoy the rest of the tour in the car with her dog she took on the trip. Also because I wanted to see how she went. She didn’t want to visit a doctor. Later after the trip she told us that her ribs were broken, that she went some time after the trip to the hospital for X-ray. We’re having our hesitations about this story as she stayed three more days with us, knowing that we may not judge anyone. Having safety always on the first place as well for the people as well for the horses.

The guest enjoyed the tour much, her dream came through to ride a tour in the desert. She rode the quiet stallion while I took the mare as we had a special connection while the man took the stallion he wanted me to ride on. The last afternoon of the tour, after lunch, she went on her horse again. But after five minutes she told me she wanted to ride in the car. My eyes were frowning, why? She did so well and she realy liked the tour. She told me she was so convinced she made it. But she was a little scared that something would happen in the last part of the tour. She made up her mind that she was complete satisfied with what she had done. I was so proud of her to know herself so well. If a horse feels you’re a bit scared he will act likewise. She went in the car, saw ather nice parts of the desert where the Bedouin took her to enjoy her last part of the desert scenery. While we, the man from Petra, the three horses and me could go fully cantering, trotting and walking the last part to where the truck was waiting to bring the horses home.

If you like to know where I am now and what I do, visit our website Jordan Desert Journeys. Or connect to me on facebook.

I’m writing a book now about my desert life in Jordan. With many more stories, check it on the fb page: Een leven in de woestijn.

Next time a blog about my move to live in the desert of Wadi Rum with horses again.



House or barn?

Suddenly the word pets gets a very different meaning.

Imagine: you build a house but do not have any plans and money to finish it. The skeleton of the house is there. Built on top of the family’s house. Wadi Musa is a mountain village so most of the houses are built against the mountain.

Meanwhile, we live in a rented house in the valley of the village. Our landlord wants to put us out because he can receive more rent from people who have dropped their eye on our house.

But the house above the family is not finished yet and is now being used by PET animals.

Petra, horse riding to the Siq
Petra, horse riding to the Siq

Imagine a home full of small and big pets

The moment I came to live in Wadi Musa, I brought my horse and dog. My horse was placed in a stable together with the brother’s horse. But… the neighbors complained about horse’s smelling too much. Actually strange in a place with about 700-1000 horses living mostly with the people. The neighbor has to get rid of the stench. One night he led the horses outside and set the barn on fire…

Horses in the kitchen

It is too cold in the winter to leave the horses outside so a solution had to be found quickly. The house was empty, and only consists of concrete walls. The window at the front was cut down and the horses Samiha and Luca could enter.
They now have a beautiful stable … in the kitchen of the house.

Half of the time I am with the family, so the dog, a Saluki named Warda lives with them. But … a dog is unclean in Islamic countries, it can not be housed inside. There is a nice place for her in the stockroom. The straw for the horses is stored there and it is a lovely big bed for her.

If you have horses, you need a lot of food: hay, barley, corn. That is now stored in the unfinished house: in the salon where the guests will be received.

The guest room later
The guest room later


The family wanted chickens at the house for the eggs and the conviviality. During the day they scrabble around the house, pick up a cereal grain here and there or at the sink for a drop of water and of course around the horses where enough “waste” will be around. In the evening they sleep in the guest room, the salon.

The family’s house is heated with a wood stove. Once every couple of weeks the father goes to get wood and which is then stored in the bathroom and in the toilet of the “empty” house.


Because all the stuff from the camp in the desert does not fit into the rented house, the dining room and the women’s salon are used as storage. They are now full of beds, mattresses and other items.

There was at once a nice herd of goats … I had the hope that they would scurry around the house but the fence is not ready yet.
The last acquisition is therefore 9 goats, 5 adults and 4 small ones. And they inhabit the bedroom.

Petra, view from a house on the mountain
Petra, view from the house on the mountain


The house is full. I asked when the pigeons come to live on the roof, but perhaps I have brought the family to new ideas?
Now the plan is to finish the house further, but what to do with all the pets?
I still have a big Bedouin tent. We make plans to put these on the roof of the house. Then we can live there … if we are actually have to move out of our rented house …

It is a true story from 2011. In the end the house has been completed and we have lived there. It was a nice house but there were so many terrible things that made it no longer felt like home. My horse had passed away, see this blog. I was so happy when I could flee this house even though it meant that I was literally on the street with all my stuff.

Read next time where I ended up, albeit without a horse but with goats, camels, and finally with horses again.

If you like to know where I am now and what I do, visit our website Jordan Desert Journeys. Or connect to me on facebook.

I’m writing a book now about my desert life in Jordan. With many more stories, check it on the fb page: Een leven in de woestijn.