Thursday, January 26, 2006


20 km outside of SAUDI - This is the view from the ground in Jordan, I took this picture a few days ago while traversing the desert. Stark and beautiful, like nothing I have ever seen before.

Peering from behind the golden fur dashboard, I am waving away the sunlight like wayward see-weed. The chiseled brown mountains raise striated peaks from the earth pocketed and creased by brown rhythms of color.

From inside the 1978 Toyota Landcruiser, a worn maroon velour interior bumps and dances before my eyes as we jostle across the sandy terrain. My guide dons a coiled headdress, beneath which drapes a red and white checkered Kufiyah. The red sand scatters across the horizon as far as the eye can see, scrubby brush peeks out like spiny reptiles poking their heads into the sunlight.

The faded plastic chromed clutch forms the shape of a cobra's head as we shift off into the desert. The gurgling sounds of Arab voices fill my ears echoing the mysterious nature of this forbidden land. Amber colored prayer beads oscillate from the rear-view mirror continuously colliding with the pine-tree shaped car freshener, I can't see any pine trees. I don't think there are any within 500 miles of this place. Epitomizations of the clash between the ancient and the modern, globalization comes home.

What was once only foot paths for obstinate camels is now traversed by the rustic tires of my SUV. The bubbling vocal hydrolics of camels has been replaced by gasping engines, those smelly foul, surly creatures, spewing their festering saliva. I am tracing the topography of a world receding, crumbling, decaying into the red sea of sand. Scraping our tires with their jagged inflections, my dusty nostrils carry the scent of past pulverized crustaceans.

"Ahalan Wasahalan," they tell me - "nice to meet you." This is capturing the desert.


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