|Gathered around fire watching sunrise|
I woke up to the sunrise this morning. It was a beautiful sight. As the sun rose, somehow the temperature seemed to drop even more and for about a half hour a strong wind blew across our campsite. It was a surreal experience. After a quick breakfast, our group began our journey back. On the way back, we stopped to
view a couple famous rock formations; my favorite is one that looks like a chicken!
|Famous rocks, mushroom rock and chicken rock|
We arrived back at the oasis and spent the next hour exploring the surrounding area. All around were small fields where skinny farm animals were grazing. It was evident that being literally in the middle of nowhere, agriculture was a vital part to the Bedouin’s culture. All of the life in this village was supported by hot springs. We found a spring nearby that was pumped from a hole in the ground, where it flowed through a 4 foot deep pool for the locals to bathe in and then diverted into irrigation channels. Some of the other tourists joined us in “swimming” in the pool. The pool was exactly like a natural hottub, complete with bubbles. I noticed that the water in it evaporated a lot quicker than normal water and gave a cooling sensation similar to alcohol.
|Farm animals in the oasis|
I went back to relax for a little in our hotel room while before beginning our tour of the town. Each hotel room was its own separate building. Ours was made of brick and stucco, and had domed roofs. Walking inside, I was greeted with a blast of cold air. It was cold inside! (For those of you stuck in the snow storm right now, 50 degrees is cold for daytime in the desert :P) The whole building was cooled with wind towers, which were basically holes in the roof designed to circulate air through the rooms. The rooms were decorated with paintings of the oasis on the walls and a really neat painting on the wall of camels made from colored sand. Oh yeah and my room key was a big brass key that looked like it came from an 18th century mansion.
|Our house in the oasis|
|Sand painting of camels|
A couple hours later, we set out to explore the town. Our first stop was to another hot spring. This one was a little hotter than the first one, and by a little hotter, I mean almost boiling. I learned this after I put my foot in. One of the kids in our group was all set to dive in but was stopped just in time by our guide. We then went to a lake and to Pyramid Mountain. On top of the mountain, we had an amazing view of the oasis and watched the sun set in the distance. Leaving the desert, the stench of rotting flesh filled the air. A minute later, we passed the carcass of a dead donkey.
|Lake in oasis|
|Sunrise from Pyramid Mountain|
The last stop of our tour was a third hot spring. The spring was behind a barn, but when we walked back, we saw that it was full of locals bathing. They stared at us and were probably offended that a group of tourists were watching them. Our guide kept telling us to get it and didn’t want us to leave. Clearly, no one in our group was going to get in. For some reason, he seemed really intent on us going in the spring. He even called up the hotel manager and put him on the phone with Allie, who spent the next 5 minutes telling him that we didn’t want to swim. It was a pretty awkward situation.
|Hot hot spring|
We arrived back at the hotel, where we had a dinner similar to the one made the night before in the desert. The rest of the night, we spent playing cards in our bedroom. It was nice to have some time to relax. What made the night even better was that we discovered that what appeared to be an air conditioner on the wall was actually a heater. This was great news because with the wind towers, it would have probably been as cold as our previous night in the desert. Our beds were covered with bug nets. I didn’t think I really needed mine in the middle of winter, but I thought I’d use mine just for the experience. Sleeping on a real bed, I got a great night’s sleep that night.
|Bedroom with bug net over my bed|