Well I have returned from Jordan not entirely fit and well. I managed to get a touch of the flu during the two weeks but still managed to facilitate the course. It was a great experience to go to Jordan and spend time on a site that is around 350 meters below sea level. Man what a place . The soil is just very degraded highly alkaline dirt that doesn’t get very much rainfall per year. This is a very typical drylands example however probably pushing to more extreme with the alkalinity and lack of altitude. Of course, biblicaly this land has also had a long exposure to man habitation. And they didn’t do it very well considering it was once classed as the land of milk and honey!
I had many experiences whilst on the trip. I managed to grab some time and went to see the Dead Sea. This is the lowest place on earth and it is definitely what we would call the “sump” of the region collecting all the salt and I dread to think what else. Yes I had a “float” like you must though I wouldn’t say it was pleasurable as I could only think of all the toxins possibly absorbing into my skin and besides it was quite chilly so I didn’t stay in long. This may have been when and where I allowed the lurgy to sneak into my system.
I also had a chance to visit Petra, a significant historical site in Jordan. A mind boggling place that questions the mind as to the reasoning for there being such a place in the middle of nowadays, nowhere. As usual for me I wasn’t so amazed with the buildings, caves and carving but trying to imagine the timeline of the habitation. I was very blessed to actually spend some time with some Bedouins and even slept overnight in one of the caves.From what I can understand the Bedouins have been living in the Petra Valley since before it became “inhabited” and now are the only ones that can still live there so they have endured over all.
Teaching the PDC course was an enjoyable experience and it went well. There were ten “westerners” and five local Jordanians. The westerners were actually mostly involved in undeveloped countries and working in Aid like situations which was great to see. The Jordanians had limited English understanding so needed an interpreter. This was a bit challenging for them however when the design presentation time came I was quite impressed with their delivery showing that they managed to “get” the information that I was delivering.
The most significant “learning” for myself during my visit to Jordan was the contrast in climate that I saw. Amman, the capital of Jordan is at an altitude of 700 -1100 meters above sea level and is actually quite green at this time of year. They even get snow in winter sometimes up to four feet. I was cold when I stayed there for two of the nights. The site of the project is around 300 – 350 meters below sea level, very alkaline and not green even though they are just coming out of winter. This I am sure due to overgrazing and mismanagement of the pastures, (for centuries). And then the trip down to Petra through the dry countryside and then into the barren valley. Which was deceiving as I was taken by my new bedouin friend to see his gardens at the “spring”. So lower down the valley water starts to trickle and then run quite a lot . This is where the main water supply comes from and they tap into this and grow fruit trees. There were guavas, lemons ,oranges olives and more up on the ledge in the valley. Very nice to see.
There was so many more amazing moments on this trip. I was very blessed to have this experience and there is the possibility of returning next year. Cool!
©2016 Tom Kendall; permeco.org, incorporating Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast, simplicity, permaculture, self reliance and homesteading, jordan travels PDC course Jordan.