May 18, 2009

Our Fourth Bedouin Host
Umm Sayhun, Jordan

Aidric's First Mosquito Net Experience: I originally was going to let Tatiana and the baby sleep under its protection, but she insisted I squeeze in.

Although we deeply appreciated the generosity of Nawaf and his family (our Bedouin hosts for the past two nights), sometimes you've just got to pull the plug on a CouchSurfing session for reasons of physical or mental wellbeing. In this case, it was both.

Despite being located firmly in the middle of a desert, from dusk 'till dawn Nawaf's home was plagued by some awfully nasty mosquitoes. Tatiana and the baby were bitten up pretty bad from our first night there, prompting me break out my rarely-used (but absolutely essential to have when you need it) single-man mosquito netting to protect us while we slumbered—the first time it'd seen use since Brazil in 2007.

But it wasn't just the sleeping conditions (or showering issues that I'm not even going to get into) that turned us off. One of the reasons Nawaf moved us from the partially-constructed home we slept in for a single night was so that his family and our son could play with each other. And at first blush this seemed like a wonderful idea, until we really started looking closer at the hygiene and health of those interacting with our son.

Bedouin children eating popsicles at 7:30 in the morning. It has been our observation that there's a serious lack of both hygiene and proper eating habits among many of the urbanized Bedouin youth.

Naturally, the neighborhood children/family cousins all wanted to see and play with Aidric, many vying to touch his hair, pick him up or lead him away. Most were what I'd describe as filthy, a few were too rough with him, while others had some pretty large, serious open sores on their faces from herpes or hepatitis—most memorably one omnipresent young girl with such an ailment that always wanted to kiss him! Arrgghhh!

This was not the place for a 16-month-old (who still sometimes puts fingers in his mouth).

So last night, with the three of us tightly pressed against each other, somewhat smothering under the mosquito netting and waking up every 30 minutes to make sure the baby hadn't rolled against the mesh (which would've allowed the mosquitoes to bite him), I promised Tatiana I'd remove us the following day after we returned from Petra.

My Man, Mohammad

Yesterday afternoon we paid a visit to the fourth and final Bedouin CouchSurfing host that we'd made contact with (from Jerusalem at the beginning of the month). He had a brand new profile created less than a month earlier without any peer reviews (and linking to his tour company, Bedouin Discovery)… So it was hard to tell much about the fellow or his intentions.

A humorous clipping of the tour company's name (Bedouin Discovery) occurs as you walk up the street.

But the village of Umm Sayhun is very small, and after asking a few people at the corner market (and discovering the company signage) we were knocking on his door and chatting on his balcony.

Mohammad was instantly likable and the family and I certainly clicked with his easygoing attitude. That afternoon he offered us a place to stay and this evening I helped him polish up some tour quote e-mails being written in English. (Did I mention the first Internet connection we've had in about a week?)

Mohammad's bachelor apartment is by far the most modern and comfortable of any of the CouchSurfing hosts encountered in Petra. Seriously, the guy's even got a western toilet with a supply of toilet paper—an extraordinary anomaly, likely thanks to the Dutch lady that was a part of his life.

Tatiana's on Cloud 9.

Umm Sayhun, as seen from Mohammad's Balcony

Mohammad's Balcony

Mohammad's Living Room

Our Bedroom at Mohammad's

The rocking chairs are a nice touch for hot, mellow afternoons.

Comments:

The United States

Katie

August 27th, 2010

I think relocation was a good call. I've got the heebie-jeebies just reading about it!

Jordan

Mohammed Ali

October 31st, 2010

The people who were staying at my house were very nice and very friendly. They are a nice family with a beautiful son. It was my pleasure to be their host. I wish all the best for them on their journies wherever it may take them and they are always welcome to stay in my home whenever they are in Petra. Thank you so much for kind words about your stay.

Best Regards
Your man,
Mohammed

The Netherlands

Mandy

October 23rd, 2011

I am not a Couch Surfer myself, but I would just like to throw my hat in the "My Man Mohammed" ring. His Bedouin Discovery does a remarkable job at giving you the real feel of the bedouin hospitality + sense of freedom.

Wish I was born and raised as a bedouin. The happy campers in touch with nature ;-) Beautiful.

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