Our Fourth Bedouin Host
Umm Sayhun, Jordan
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.
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.
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.