Yesterday's great day turned into today's great headache, at least for Justin. He at least had enough brain power to ask Crystal on the way out of the room if she had taken the passports out the safe - she hadn't, and we had just shut the door. Fortunately we still had the keys on us. We headed out just after 8:30, but stopped shortly therafter at a viewpoint above Petra. From the viewpoint we could see our hotel, the entry to the Siq, and some of the city. We continued generally south, going through a very high plain with a valley below us to the west, with very nice views. We then started to descend through rolling hills, before getting down to near sea level, and near the southern end of Jordan.

We got to Wadi Rum around 10, and transferred from our van to a 4x4 for meandering around the area. The desert reminded us a bit of the area around Sossusvlei (not the dunes, the other part) and the Hartmann Valley area in Namibia - very flat desert, with harder sand, and then large rock formations and mountains sticking up out of the sand. Aziz told us about T.E. Lawrence (the real "Lawrence of Arabia"), who came to Jordan and Syria from the UK to do a thesis on castles in 1909. He stayed and wrote a book on castles, and then later became famous for his work in brokering a deal between Jordan and the UK when the Ottoman Empire broke up in 1917. We had no idea that Lawrence of Arabia was a real person until today.

In addition to getting a history lesson, Crystal finally got to ride a camel. She's wanted for several years to ride a camel through the desert, and today presented a perfect opportunity. It is similar to riding an elephant, but getting up and getting down is a bit jarring due to the angle when the camel is halfway up or halfway down. The camel puts its front legs down before its rear legs (and also lifts up its rear legs before its front legs), so you really have to lean back when that is going on. We stopped several places around Wadi Rum (including a spot with some petroglyphs from around 300 AD), and all told, we were out in the desert for about two hours, then came back and hopped in the van.

We both slept a good deal of the way heading back to Amman, since we'd already seen all of the scenery already (minus what we slept through when heading from Madaba to Petra two days earlier). We reached our lunch destination around 2pm, it was just north of where we had stopped coming down two days prior. We had Mansaf again for lunch, still half asleep. We got back on the road around 3pm, and chatted with Aziz about things to do in Amman that afternoon and evening. Aziz wrote out some instructions for things to do in downtown, since we'd have the afternoon and evening to ourselves. We got back to the hotel around 4:30, but just crashed in the bedroom, watching TV and checking emails. Around 6:30 Crystal went upstairs for happy hour and snacks, while Justin just went to sleep. Crystal got back around 9, and then turned in early as well.