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Sofia Ps.
3 mins read

Impressions of Jordan; Once Upon a Desert

I can’t really write a travel post about Jordan, because I wasn’t there really for travelling. I was part of an archaeological team, still a student at the time, and I’ve spent one month excavating in the middle of nowhere. These are some of my memories…

Sand; the beginning

Sand and dust. Dust and sand. Everywhere. Always there; a constant reminder of where you are. You can’t ignore the desert, even if you try. You have to embrace it.

Sand. View of desert in Jordan
In the beginning, there was sand.


This was my tent, my home, my refuge for a month. It’s funny how quickly humans adapt to a new environment. All it took was three days and it felt like I’d always been there. Sand and rocks as far as the eye can see. The blue seas of home seemed but a distant memory.

Tent in the desert of Jordan
"Room" with a view!


I was surprised by the fact I wasn’t scared at all when I met other creatures. I respected their space and hoped they’ll respect mine. Back in Greece, I was often squeamish about snakes, scorpions, spiders etc., but here? Nope. I wasn’t afraid at all. I don’t know why. It was probably because I was too thirsty all the time to care (we only had a very limited amount of water each day, and due to some unexpected difficulties after the only passage to the village was destroyed, we even had to spend a few days with no water at all).

Two lizards fighting each other in the desert of Jordan
Unfriendly neighbours.


My favourite thing about the desert is the one thing I couldn’t take a picture of because I didn’t have a good camera with me. It was the night sky. Oh, how captivating and marvellous the night sky was! I’ve never experienced anything like it before or since. Absolute darkness and the sound of a light breeze gently stirring the sand. And there was I. Drinking tea in the middle of the desert, completely at peace, looking at countless stars. I’ll never forget that feeling.

A small camp with a view of the desert in Jordan and the sun in the background during a sandstorm
Sometimes during sandstorms, we couldn't even see the sun. Can you see the tiny things in the bottom-left corner? This was our camp.


The closest village was about a 5-hour-walk away. When we finished the excavation, we had to stay a couple of days in the village to work on some data etc. The village was quite small and we were the only foreigners there. The locals spoke no English and I spoke about 20 words of Arabic in total. So, that was fun! I was surprised by how many people invited us for tea or dinner. They really insisted on meeting us and hanging out with us, although we were complete strangers. Their warmth and openness touched my heart. I loved spending time together and chatting, even though we were speaking different languages; The language of kindness and friendship is universal. I’ve learned a lot about generosity and true hospitality.

Two children playing with a wheel and a camera in a village in Jordan
Who's taking whose picture?


The work was finally over and we had a couple of days off before going back to Greece. I was thrilled about this, as it would be devastating to be in the country and not see at least 1 to 2 sights! I had to choose only one though because the time wasn’t enough for more. It was a no brainer. I don’t care how touristy it sounds; I was dying to see Petra. I’ve always wanted to become an archaeologist, so naturally, Petra was one of my dream destinations as a child (should I blame Indiana Jones for this?).

Two women selling souvenirs in Petra, Jordan
Yes. I could spend days and days exploring ancient cities without ever being bored. Thank you for asking.

Stone or rock or Petra

I can’t describe what I felt when I was walking down the Siq passage and suddenly after a turn, the huge Treasury, the Al-Khazneh, appeared right in front of me. I was in awe. Completely speechless.

Treasury, Al-Khazneh, Petra, Jordan
The Treasury was a mausoleum built by Aretas IV Philopatris, King of the Nabataeans.


I’ve spent quite some time exploring on foot or by camel (have I ever told you that I’m obsessed with how cute and funny camels are?) and just enjoying being there. I enjoyed reading about the fascinating history of this magical ancient city, walking up and down and examining every passage and every rock, drinking tea. I was truly in my happy place.

Nostos; the return

My last stop was the city of Amman. We stayed there sadly only for two days, but I was happy to see the capital of this country, which I was in love with by then. The busy, bustling city, the walks and the sights, the food and the coffee, the people and the culture, everything was delightful! I was sad to leave, but it was time to go back to Greece.

A view of the desert in Jordan
I will always remember this view. A tiny part of my heart is still there.

In a way, you never really return home; it’s funny, isn’t it? Your home is still the same, but you’re not.

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