Tag Archives: #Petra


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.

Locked in Petra

Horseback riding in Wadi Rum on the dunes
Horseback riding in Wadi Rum on the dunes, my son on Samiha

In Petra one should be happy, a beautiful envirement, the site Petra within reach, mountains around. A nice home. But Samiha and me were not happy. Samiha had to work in Petra as I was not able to ride her regularly. Because many times I could not leave the home, I was not allowed to go by myself. Where I would find someone for a horseback ride with me? The brothers took her to Petra to let strangers ride on her from the visitor’s center to the Siq and back. When I was able to visit her she was not the same as before. Her head down. Staring at me with pathetic eyes.

Samiha lost

One day the brothers told me she was not in her stable when they wanted to take her to work. I was in panic, my lovely horse gone. Many had an eye on her because she was so beautiful. But I didn’t want to let her go even when her situation was not how I wanted. Together we came, together we would be strong. I was in hope for better times. We would move to another home and then she would be nearby, next to the home. But now she had left. Her door had a lock that she could not open by herself… How many scenerario’s went through my head, but all the time I came back to the fact that someone had taken her. Instead of everyone searching to her in the valley where some water was and also grass, nobody was looking at her. I didn’t know yet that things go different in Jordan. The brothers did some research, asking the horse guys if someone had seen her. After two days and two sleepless nights they told me she was found. Someone had seen her in the valley and brought her in his barn. So she came back, again different then how I knew her.


We moved up the mountain, she got a nice place in a half open stable, next to the home. Together with the horse of the brother. But it was not for long. The neighbours started to complain that the horses smelled and were too close to the home. But there was no other place at that moment to bring her.

Brenda with her Arabian horse Samiha in the mountains of Petra
Brenda with her Arabian horse Samiha in the mountains of Petra


One day I heard from my husband that Samiha was free again. The neighbour had made a fire in her stable but fortunately before he did, he moved the horses out. No stable anymore. We found her nearby, they put an iron chain on her foot. I didn’t agree with this but I had to shut my mouth. I was with her every day. After the summer she lost the foal there. This story is written in a previous blog. Also my life was not good. My husband had a story that someone put the black eye on him because they didn’t agree about our marriage or they were jealous. It affected daily life. The doors in our home went open or closed by themselves, many things got broken or started their own life, I found things on other places, a blanket cut with the sharpest knife in the home… Lamps turning on and of, a haunted home. And my husband was not okay. In those days the physical abuse started and many strange ideas started to form in his mind. But we would move again. This time to the home next to his parents. When I came to Petra I knew already that we would live in this home but it was not finished yet. And of course I hoped everything would be fine then.


The second winter came. In the mountains it is very cold and Samiha was living almost on top of the mountain in the cold wind. In winter it can snow in Petra. She has a warm blanket but the nights are shiffering cold. We moved the horses in the empty, not finished home to be protected from the cold weather. She liked it, and she was closeby. Everyday I brought her treats, she seemed happier. But I had to ask many times to clean the stable as the horses stood in a dirty area. It was not done to do this myself as a woman… At least it was the best place till that moment.

Samiha sick

When we started to build the home to live there the horses had to move out. They went to the valley again, far away from the home. I didn’t get permission to see her. Once in a while she came back for a shower. She became ill. I wanted the vet to see her. He couldn’t find anything but made the suggestion that maybe she drank contaminated water from the valley. I could not check if she had clean water every day because it was not available at her stable. I felt sick because of her and was not able to do anything. Everytime again and again I asked how she was, if she got enough food and water and all the time they told me she was fine. Till she became sick. The veterinarian gave her anti-biotics, vitamins and she needed infusions, about ten! bottles. The vet had no time, he did the first and asked who could do the rest. He looked up very strange when I told him to do this. The father of my husband said to the vet that it was okay for me to do this work. The horse was next to the home and one after another I changed the infusions. Samiha knew it was good, she accepted me to do this. All the time I sat next to her, talking nice things. But she knew…

Samiha, a real desert horse
Samiha, a real desert horse


After the treatment she became a little better but not the same horse I brought two years ago. She worked a little but became ill again and again. Still I had the thoughts and hope we would find a better place for her, that I could see her again every day and take care of her, wishfull thinking. I have to admit that my husband never became the same as how he was when I met him. But I was still hoping for a better life. I believed his nice words that he would work on our future and that he would change when everything went better. One day he came with the message he would bring me to Samiha because she was dying. Only then??? I was so angry that he didn’t tell me earlier, everything went well all the time when I asked and then at once she was dying? The volunteer at that moment with me visited her a few days ago and although not 100%, she took pictures, Samiha was looking quit well. I took an apple with me. I was sad, but I didn’t want to cry to be strong for her. The volunteer was with me. When we came to her stable, Samiha was laying down. I gave her the apple.

Warning from my horse

Always she was taking every treat very carefully, but this time she grabbed it from my hand, biting me and…she destroyed my wedding ring… It was her message to me. She could not stand up. She was laying in the water. I managed her with united forces to stand up, but she could not walk. Three steps would save her life, I thought. She did it, but collapsed immediately again. I called my husband to help us but only two small boys came. There was an empty dry stable if she could come there. But nobody would help. Everything what I found in the area I put on her, blankets, carpets to stay warm. The next day the vet would come. I could not sleep, wanted to go to her very early in the morning, but it was not allowed. I was cooking inside. Angry, sad, I had to go to my horse. But in the same time I was so scared. The abuse went worse, he could have killed me if I would go. Later I heard she died that day, before the vet came. I had enough from all the lies told to me. I had enough of being in Wadi Musa, it was not my place. I have cried for days, it was my fault, I thought. I understood the message from Samiha very well. I packed my stuff to leave this place. The abuse was not only physical I knew, mentally, emotionally I was brainwashed. I was very scared and it blocked me to think clear.

Brenda with Arabian horse Samiha and Saluki Warda
Brenda with Arabian horse Samiha and Saluki Warda


After everything was packed my husband came to me, he was very sad, he loved me, he could not live without me, he would improve his life, he would give me more permissions. I believed him and unpacked. And packed again. And unpacked another time. The third time I packed I was sure I would not listen to him anymore. But it was not a question of just going. I was in Jordan. My husband could stop me, even if I was already on the road. He could even find me and bring me back. In that time he checked everything, took one of my telephones, didn’t put any credit on the other one because he didn’t want me to be in the connection with others. Many times he forbid me to open my laptop, to work… He checked everything on the laptop… But in the end, with the help of the Dutch embassy with who I connected on a secret email account, I could make my escape. I was afraid if I wouldn’t go now it would cost my life too like Samiha.

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 the last blog about Petra. How a house changed into a barn.

Petra of all places

Petra, the Treasury
Petra, the Treasury

Petra is not only famous for its  archaeological site. Once it was the capital of the Nabatean empire. Later an important city for the Romans. The caves have been used by the Bedouin. Now Petra is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. A tourist attraction but also famous for the horses living there and working with the tourists.

Special meeting?

In Wadi Musa, a city close to Petra I had a meeting with someone for travelling. But it seemed fate had something else in mind. It is October 2010. After researching and checking the road for horse riding for 25 people from Wadi Rum to Petra through the mountains we, Abdullah, abu Ayman, my son and I, arrived in Wadi Musa. I would stay there in a hotel for the meeting next morning while the others went back. I was tired, dusty and hungry, went to the restaurant next door and ordered a coffee and a sandwich. Meanwhile thinking about drawing the horse eye with pastel chalk of Samiha later in my hotel room.

Someone was sitting behind me, after I finished my meal he started to talk with me. About horses and many other things. I liked his smile and his empathy for what I had been through and his concern. Next day we saw each other again at the travel meeting.

Eye of my dearest desert horse Samiha, drawing
Eye of my dearest desert horse Samiha, drawing

Moving from the desert village to Petra

In December I moved to Petra (Wadi Musa) to stay with him. My horse Samiha went first, 2 days later we followed with all the household, volunteers and 3 dogs. The dogs were the first problem, the home had a small garden but the dogs could escape through the gate. We kept them on the leach. Next morning two of them needed to go to Samiha, who was a bit down the hill in a sort of stable they build already before. Not specially for her, Petra has many horses working on the site. One dog escaped the very first night by biting his leach, the other one stayed. And I kept the Saluki in the home.

In the mountains of Petra
In the mountains of Petra

 Horses in Petra

From the visitor center to the entrance of the Siq, visitor’s can ride on a horse, guided by the owners, most of the time young guys. Actually the price of this horseback riding tour of a few minutes is inside the entrance ticket of Petra. The families who own the horses have a number to get a monthly fee from the entrance tickets, which will go to the family as a small salary. Goal of the boys (son’s of the family) is to get a tip from the riders to have their own income. Too little a tip is hardly accepted, they’ll go for the first prize and are only satisfied with a lot of money,  they will ask for it. Other goal is to offer the riders a tour in the area or to the high place of sacrifice, in my opinion many times for  prices too high. But once in a while they manage to trap the tourists  . I allow everyone a fair income but it is not allowed to swindle the tourists. When I came to Petra I didn’t know about this yet, but when time passed I heard much that I cannot identify with.

The Brooke hospital

Brooke hospital was situated behind the visitor’s centre. All the horses in Petra, riding in front of the carriages were checked every day. Other horses could have a check-up when needed. The boys were taught about the necessary amount and type of food every day, how to take care for the hooves by doing farrier work, how to ride the horse well and how to stop abuse. In the following years the horses improved much. The horses were looking better, even the boys took better care of the saddle’s and reins, having beautiful decoration or had a friend abroad sending new horse equipment from their country. The Brooke also took care for the donkeys. Medicines were free as well as the veterinarian fees. The horses and donkeys were flowering under in the hands of The Brooke.

After The Brooke 

Everything collapsed. The condition of the horses and donkeys took off although there were more private veterinarians in and around Petra, Wadi Musa and Um Sayhoun. Now they had to pay for a consult and the medicines, very different to when everything is free. For most of the people who could afford it, the money was not invested in good care of the horses and donkeys. They were just using their noble animals to work.  Rather they needed the money for their own sake, to buy material stuff.

Now: Four Paws

Fortunately now Four Paws is looking after the horses and donkeys. We can see the horses and donkeys are already doing better. You can read the full article about the aid project to improve the health of donkeys and horses in Petra here.

With Samiha and the Saluki Warda in the mountains of Petra.
With Samiha and the Saluki Warda in the mountains of Petra.


First I was happy to move to Petra, of all places this was the place to be. The ancient old city that the Nabateans cut out of the rocks. The story of Moses and Aaron, (the tomb of Aaron can be found on mountain Haroun), how Moses hit the rock and seven springs arose in the area, still possible to visit the one in Wadi Musa. I lived close to the site of Petra in Wadi Musa (spring of Moses). First in the village, later up the hill.  Also Samiha moved up the hill and lived with  other horses close to our home. I could visit her every day and make rides through the mountains of Petra. There were beautiful views but the path was a goat road  you had to stay on, because the mountains were steep. Samiha loved to galop although risky on the winding paths. Hardly ever we met someone else except some shepherds of flocks with goat and sheep and some dogs, barking to protect their herd.


Samiha got pregnant from the horse of the brother of my husband. It was already done before I knew. Confronted with this fact I was happy for her. She changed a bit. Busier with herself and less patient. But still comfortable to ride. She loved it to go out in the mountains.

In the mountains of Petra
In the mountains of Petra


One morning the little brother came to me and told me Samiha lost her baby, because another horse was free and kicked her in her belly. I went to see her. We climbed down the hill where the dead premature foal was. A brown one, so beautiful, complete but dead. She only had to go one more month  being pregnant. It was her first foal. What a loss, I was in pain for my dear horse Samiha. I couldn’t believe this. I took care of my lovely horse, she never became the same after this loss. Meanwhile it seemed it was the beginning of the end. Everything I tried to accomplish seemed to fail. With Samiha it went the same. But I was married now and had the commitment to make something out of my marriage.

Next time about my visit to the Royal stables of princess Alia in Amman.

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.

Reis te paard Wadi Rum naar Petra

Jordan Horse Trek. Onderweg
Jordan Horse Trek. Voorbereiding om te vertrekken, paarden klaarmaken.

25 Paarden zijn er nodig. We hebben er zelf één, Samiha. Zij gaat natuurlijk mee.


Het begint al goed, Samiha wil niet in de trailer om haar van het dorpje Quwayra waar we wonen naar Wadi Rum te vervoeren. Ondertussen ben ik overal en nergens om veel te regelen. Het huis staat op z’n kop. Gelukkig is mijn zoon er met vrijwilligers om alles wat op het lijstje staat klaar te zetten buiten op de veranda. We hebben al veel hele grote boodschappen gedaan. Voer voor de paarden en een grote stapel benodigdheden om het comfortabel te maken voor de mensen. De rest hebben we in huis. Alle matrassen, kussens, dekens, keukenbenodigdheden staan klaar. In het dorpje Disa wordt de rest aangevuld, daar wordt al het eten gekocht voor de mensen en de rest opgetrommeld.

De paarden zijn gearriveerd in Wadi Rum.
De paarden zijn gearriveerd in Wadi Rum.

Dag 1

Maar nu is het Samiha die niet meewerkt, ze moet toch echt naar Wadi Rum. Tussendoor kom ik natuurlijk even langs om ook een poging te wagen. Ze voelt onze stress, ons hoofd is vol met alle regel dingen. Over naar plan B. Mijn zoon rijd haar tegen de avond naar Wadi Rum. Een rit van 35 km. Ahmad gaat mee met de auto om ze in het donker te begeleiden. Ik wordt opgehaald om naar Amman te gaan om de mensen daar op te halen van het vliegveld vroeg in de ochtend, ze hebben daar in het hotel geslapen. Er is een touringcar besteld. Bevestigd en betaald om van de luchthaven naar Wadi Rum te rijden waar de mensen uit Engeland direct op de paarden zullen stappen. Het loopt weer eens anders. Geen bus op de afgesproken tijd! Ik ga bellen en de bus blijkt in de garage te staan met mankementen. Het schijnt dat in heel Jordanië geen bus meer is te krijgen, het is hoogseizoen, oktober 2010. Uiteindelijk komt er na uren een bus uit Saudi Arabië. Niet goed voor het gemoed en vertrouwen van de mensen. Onderweg maar een snelle snack voor lunch want iedereen wil zo snel mogelijk naar de bestemming en paardrijden, maar heeft trek.

Inmiddels zijn vandaag ook de andere paarden in Wadi Rum gearriveerd. Een dag later dan in eerste instantie afgesproken en dat krijg je dan op de dag te horen dat ze verwacht worden. Loslaten… Ik zit nu in Amman waar het ook niet vanzelf lijkt te gaan en er zijn genoeg capabele mensen om de prachtige dieren naast Samiha te zetten. Ze is blij dat ze niet meer alleen is.

Eindelijk, een eind in de middag arriveren in Wadi Rum. De paarden staan opgezadeld en we kunnen een klein ritje maken om iedereen aan de paarden te laten wennen. Onze Bedoeïenententen om te slapen staan klaar in Kharaza bij de natuurlijke brug. Maar dat halen we niet meer voor donker, een rit van bijna 25 km. Dus blijven we een nachtje in het kamp slapen en improviseren. Er gaat een schaap aan het spit als welkom voor de mensen die met deze charity tour tegen kanker gaan paardrijden. Allemaal zeer ervaren, iedereen heeft eigen paarden. Naast de paardentoer is er een fietstoer en een wandeltoer met als doel om samen in Petra te eindigen.

Jordan Horse Trek, onderweg met 25 paarden.
Jordan Horse Trek, onderweg met 25 paarden.

Dag 2

Er zijn nog vier dagen over om in Petra aan te komen… De organisator is meegekomen uit Engeland. Zij bepaalde dat ik na dag twee geen gids te paard meer zou zijn maar me bezig zou houden met de leiding over het eten, vervoer enz.. De lunch waar voldoende aanwezig was zou niet voldoende zijn. Dat klopt want het brood werd nauwelijks aangeraakt en mensen aten de overmatige lunch als diner zonder brood, niet gewend aan de Arabische gewoonte om met het brood de goedgevulde salades, kaas en soepen te eten… Een hele stapel brood achterlatend…

De plaats waar de tenten klaarstaan om te slapen was niet goed omdat we kilometers hadden in te halen. Dus werd alles weer ingepakt, niet eenvoudig met de zware bedoeïenententen die geweven zijn van geitenhaar, er zijn zeker 6 man voor nodig om dit werk te klaren. En verderop weer opgebouwd… Er was een tractor met watertank mee om water te vervoeren voor de paarden en de mensen. Deze bleef onderweg vastzitten… Ik zat nu veel in de auto bij Ahmad om al het verloop van de reis te controleren, minder contact met de mensen te paard en meer met de leiding uit Engeland. De leiding vertrok overigens weer na twee dagen. Er was nog wel de reisleidster te paard, die nu het contact van mij met de paardenjongens en de mensen overnam omdat zij wel te paard zat…

Jordan Horse Trek, een prachtig gezicht met de hele kudde paarden en berijders door de woestijn.
Jordan Horse Trek, een prachtig gezicht met de hele kudde paarden en berijders door de woestijn.

De paarden waren fantastisch. Ik kende ze niet persoonlijk, maar had ze wel uitgezocht, ze waren in goede conditie en kwamen uit Petra. Al mijn extra paardenspullen, van zadels tot teugels tot een doos met reparatie onderdelen werden wel uitgeleend en onderweg moest er regelmatig eens wat gerepareerd of vervangen worden. Er was een dokter uit Engeland aanwezig die ook te paard zat en er reed een dierenarts uit Jordanië mee met zijn pick-up. Voor alles werd gezorgd. Mijn zoon was er met twee van onze vrijwilligers, zij hebben ontzettend veel werk verzet. Mensen onderhouden, drankjes inschenken, een toilet bouwen op iedere plaats waar we verbleven, alle spullen weer inladen om verder te trekken en meehelpen met het opbouwen van het kamp. Bedoeïenen zorgden voor de auto’s, het vervoer van alle spullen, het eten en de voorraad. Er werd iedere keer een speciale keukentent opgezet. Dag twee verliep goed, de twee koffers die niet gearriveerd waren met de gasten kwamen ook aan, ook een heel geregel want het is niet makkelijk om deze ergens in de woestijn te krijgen.

Jordan Horse Trek, onderweg met 25 paarden.
Jordan Horse Trek, onderweg met 25 paarden.

Dag 3

Inmiddels is iedereen meer gewend aan het ritme van de woestijn en aan de paarden. Door de paardenjongens is er voor wijn gezorgd waar de mensen blij mee zijn. We blijven nog een dag in de woestijn om in de buurt van de snelweg waar we overheen moeten te blijven slapen. Opnieuw werd er bevolen om een andere plek te nemen als welke wij hadden uitgezocht en in het reisprogramma stond, en waar alles al was opgebouwd… Op advies van de paardenjongens… Ik mocht niet anders dan me erbij neerleggen, bevel van hogerhand terwijl we vooraf alles heel duidelijk schriftelijk hadden vastgelegd met de reisleiding… Voor ons was het een rampscenario. Maar je doet alles om het de gasten en de leiding naar de zin te maken. Net voor de lunch zag ik dat de paardenjongens zich onder de tank uitgebreid met het water gingen douchen. Kalm blijven, liters water waren toch al weg…Toen wist ik bijna zeker dat er sabotage in het spel was. Want in de woestijn is het moeilijk water halen, redelijk ver van de dichtstbijzijnde openbare bron. In de woestijn ben je altijd heel zuinig met het water, zelfs de gasten douchen niet. Dus, was het water op  tijdens de lunch en het duurt een paar uur voor de tractor met tank om nieuw water te halen. We, de Bedoeïenen, de vrijwilligers en ik moesten met lede ogen toekijken en voor oplossingen zorgen. Voor de gasten verliep de rest van de dag voorspoedig. Er was weer op tijd water om te mee te koken en voor iedereen om zich mee te wassen. De maaltijden verliepen nu goed, er was voor iedereen meer dan voldoende en het smaakte goed. Achter de schermen werd er keihard gewerkt…tegen de stroom in…

Jordan Horse Trek. Slapen zoals de Bedoeïenen dat doen.
Jordan Horse Trek. Slapen zoals de Bedoeïenen dat doen.

Dag 4

Op weg naar Petra. De tractor kon maar tot een bepaald punt mee omdat we nu door de bergen gingen. De paarden kregen nog uitgebreid water bij de lunch. Daarmee moesten ze toe tot de volgende ochtend als we bij een bron zouden aankomen om de paarden te drenken. Hoger in de bergen is het kouder en er stak bovendien een hele koude wind op. De tenten werden zo neergezet dat iedereen warm zou kunnen blijven met slapen. Voor ons, de Bedoeïenen, de vrijwilligers en ik was er geen plaats meer in de smallere tenten die nu aan alle zijden dicht kon. Gedurende de dag genoten de mensen te paard van het veranderende landschap. Ze liepen over geiten paden door de bergen. We passeerden een klein Bedoeïenendorpje waar ook een kleine bron was om de paarden nog wat te kunnen laten drinken. Ik vond het jammer dat ik niet op een paard zat om de groep te gidsen. Achter de schermen gebeurde er heel veel om het iedereen naar de zin te maken maar dat werd door de gasten en de reisleidster niet opgemerkt. Er was die avond muziek. Maar deze konden de weg niet vinden en werden door de paardenjongens bovendien het verkeerde pad opgeleid… Dus veel lagen al te slapen toen de zoete klanken van de oud eenmaal begonnen te spelen. We zaten met een klein groepje rond het kampvuur om ons te warmen. Ahmad leende mij zijn schapenwollen al weather slaapzak om toch wat slaap te krijgen, ik maakte een plekje naast de auto in de hoop dat die de koude wind zou opvangen en heb een beetje kunnen slapen. Hij zou opblijven want hij had geconstateerd dat er paardenjongens de gasten aan het benaderen waren…

De bron in Bir Hammed waar de paarden in de ochtend worden gedrenkt.
De bron in Bir Hammed waar de paarden in de ochtend worden gedrenkt.

Dag 5

De laatste dag. De paardenjongens zeiden dat het onmogelijk was om helemaal naar klein Petra te rijden waar de samenkomst met de andere groepen zou zijn. Er is een weg maar ze wilden deze niet nemen. De begeleidende auto’s konden dan ook niet mee, daar hadden we al rekening mee gehouden. Ik was geen gids te paard meer en moest me dus weer neerleggen bij hun beslissing, van de reisleidster. Eerst gaan we naar de bron, Bir Hammed waar het water is opgeslagen in een tank. Ondertussen worden er trucks geregeld om de paarden te vervoeren van Rajef naar klein Petra. Een half uurtje paardrijden door de bergen bij Petra, vóór het eindpunt. Wij konden daar niet rijden met de auto’s. Na de laatste overnachting vertrokken de meeste Bedoeïenen met alle spullen terug naar huis. Samiha was op dag 2 al naar huis gebracht omdat noch mijn zoon, noch ik haar meer ging rijden. Ahmad, de vrijwilligers en ik blijven bij de groep. Hoe we ons best deden en hoeveel er van ons gevraagd werd, we bleven vriendelijk en regelden alle extra’s om aan de wensen van de gasten en reisleiding te voldoen. Dat we ons daarvoor in duizend bochten moesten wringen werd niet gezien. Vanaf de eerste dag, toen de bestelde, bevestigde en betaalde bus niet arriveerde konden wij niets meer goed doen en werd er alleen nog maar naar de paardenjongens geluisterd die er uiteindelijk na de rit heel snel vandoor gingen voordat wij onze uitgeleende spullen konden verzamelen of naar ons toe werden gebracht. Zij waren thuis in Petra, sommigen nu met een goed zadel of hoofdstel of goede stijgbeugels met riemen…

Jordan horse trek,aankomst in Klein Petra na 5 dagen paardrijden.
Jordan horse trek,aankomst in Klein Petra na 5 dagen paardrijden.

De ontvangst in klein Petra was perfect. Een hapje en een drankje voor alle deelnemers die vervolgens naar hun hotel werden vervoerd. We hadden het gehaald tot aan de finish. Iedereen had speciale hesjes meegenomen die ze op het laatst aantrokken om zo over de finish te komen. Het was een geweldig gezicht. En het gaf ons een goed gevoel om allemaal blije mensen te zien. De paarden waren geweldig. Mijn team ook, om zich steeds aan te passen aan de grillen van buitenstaanders. We hebben veel geleerd. Over mensen, over bedrijven. Ik weet nu dat ik altijd op mijn mensen aan kan. Ze hebben geen moment geprotesteerd als er weer eens (dagelijks) iets werd veranderd. Bedoeïenen zijn flexibel en zeer gastvrij, willen het iedereen naar de zin maken. Deze reis werd het uiterste van iedereen gevergd en toch bleven we lachen en grapjes maken en het moraal hoog houden.

Jordan Horse Trek. Overzicht van de plaats met paarden en mensen.
Jordan Horse Trek. Overzicht van de plaats met paarden en mensen.

We hebben gelukkig nooit meer zo’n reis gehad waarbij alles lijkt mis te gaan of met opzet mis gaat. Vanaf deze reis zijn alle opvolgende reizen zeer voorspoedig verlopen. Hoewel er soms geïmproviseerd moet worden bepalen we in overleg met de gasten wat de beste oplossing is. De woestijn, de bergen en het weer blijven onvoorspelbaar. Wij zijn daar aan gewend en kunnen er in het dagelijkse leven heel goed mee leven en omgaan. De moeilijkheid tijdens deze reis is om met mensen samen te werken die je niet kent en, zoals uit bovenstaande blijkt duidelijk andere doelen voor ogen hebben en daarvoor heel ver willen gaan. Er werden onderling visitekaartjes uitgewisseld…

Jordan Horse Trek, pauze
Jordan Horse Trek, pauze.

Petra is niet mijn plaats. Het is schitterend om te bezoeken, om de kleuren te zien, om de structuren en hoogstaande Nabateese en Romeinse architectuur te bewonderen. Maar mijn ervaring, en niet van mij alleen met de mensen daar is niet zo florissant. Drie jaar heb ik er gewoond, ik was getrouwd met een man uit Petra, een zwarte bladzijde uit mijn leven. Nu woon ik alweer bijna vier jaar in de buurt van de Wadi Rum en ik kan je vast vertellen dat ik na al die jaren in Jordanië, nu mijn droom mag leven.

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Liefs uit de woestijn van Wadi Rum.