Tonight I had one of those kinds of experiences that I wll never be able to properly capture in writing and I missed in photos.
I arrived at Feynan EcoLodge, and I already knew it would be a great experience. It’s an RSCN project located in the middle of a Bedouin community in a very remote area.
A true commitment to its cause, the site is lit only with candles (except the washrooms which run on solar power) and water is poured from filtered jugs rather than plastic, but it also a source of employment for locals as they work and supply the lodge with everything from transportation to food.
After arriving Nabil the manager took me through the area to show the archeological finds. The area has been home to many cultures including Byzantine time, archeologists are only now uncovering some of the remains of the city and its inhabitants.
It is believed that before the Romans accepted Catholicism that they sent converts here to be slaves in the copper mines.
After dinner Achmed, who works there asked if I wanted to learn how to make Bedouin coffee, something Mahmoud previously told me was reserved for special occasions so no amount of jet lag would allow me to turn this down.
What made it particularly special was knowing this culture will not survive. In time the Bedouin society will fade as younger generations move into cities, no longer wanting the Bedouin lifestyle. Achmed took me to his father’s tent and proceeded to show me how blend it with a mortar and pestle and roast it over the open fire.
I’m sorry. There are no photos.
I just wanted to be in the moment. I kept my camera aside, I didn’t want a barrier of actually experiencing this. But I can share this, the night was special but I also made a huge mistake.
I sat with my legs stretched out.
Having the bottom of your feet is a huge insult, especially when toward your host. Nabil corrected me and I was horrified. But instead of ruining the night they shared other elements of coffee etiquette:
How to know who to serve first in a circle.
What direction to serve (right)
How to take the tea (right hand only)
How to refuse more tea (shaking the cup)
How much tea you are allowed (3 cups)
Achmed’s father then told stories, which Mahmoud and Nabil kindly translated, about the politics behind tea. How one man tried to fool another who claimed they were an expert taste tester, how two warring tribes will come together with tea and how it plays out. How revenge or assassination can be planned through tea.
He recited poems and told stories and I understood nothing. But I sat in wonder just happy to be part of it all.
It was one of those moments you are lucky to experience.
I don’t have photos to share of the coffee but I do have a memory that will stay with me forever.
Looking for a Bedouin experience? Check out Lindsay’s Wadi Rum Camp.