A Bedouin Experience

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Feynan, Jordan

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.


feynan eco lodge

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.


feynan jordan

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.



Disclosure: I was a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board, they did not request that I write a favourable review or regret that I didn’t take just one photo to preserve the memory.

Join the Conversation

  1. These are really useful etiquette rules. As much time as I’ve spent traveling around the Middle East and now living in a Bedouin village in Egypt, I didn’t know any of this. Thanks a lot!

  2. I love that you had this experience! My brother had a similar one in Ethiopia and I loved hearing his stories as he recreated the experience for us at home.

  3. That sounds like an amazing experience. And sometimes it is just better to leave the camera aside so it doesn’t interfere with the experience. As a fellow blogger I know that it can be very difficult to resist that urge to pick up the camera on a moment such as that! I think you made the right choice.

  4. The Travel Chica says:

    I hope that I will know when I should put down the camera and just be in the moment.

  5. Burhan Gharaibeh says:

    Great post and hope that you will get to write more about Jordan.

  6. Wow. What an incredible experience for you amiga. I have that problem a lot- I always seem to say to myself that I need to photograph everything and sometimes I want to put the camera down- and sometimes I do. But not often enough. The place the memory is best remembered is in your heart and your mind. You share the story with us, and keep the rest for yourself. Hugs.

  7. Cathy Sweeney says:

    As much as I’d like to see photos of your experience, I’m glad you didn’t take any so that you could really be in the moment. I enjoyed just reading about it. Such a memory you’ll always have. It sounds like your big mistake was easily forgiven, too. 🙂

  8. Great post. I think sometimes we can get caught up in trying to photograph every moment when we travel. But sometimes we just need to put down the camera, and be in the moment.

  9. Your story is better than any pictures Ayngelina. Thank you for relating it well enough for us to envision it, even without photos.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Steve, in some ways I regret not taking just one photo but I know I did the right thing.

  10. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    That room is gorgeous! What an incredible experience and I so very much admire you for putting down your camera.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It was such a lovely stay, I’d love to spend more time at the Eco Lodge

  11. Great stroy. It’s the moments you put down your camera and really absorb the experience your having that end up standing out the most!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I have been putting down the camera a lot more, sometimes you need to get out from behind the camera.

  12. I am glad you took the time to focus on the experience instead of worrying about photos. It sounds like a really great experience!

  13. Death through tea. I never thought that there would be so much politics involved with what seems like an ordinary event. Your bedouin experience sounds so special.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yeah tea and coffee are really important experiences there.

  14. What a fabulous story! I agree that sometimes you just need to leave the camera out of it, even with our itchy shutter fingers 🙂

  15. Your feet are probably more offensive than most 😛

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Right now that is definitely true.

  16. Grrrl Traveler| Christine says:

    Sounds like a wonderful travel experience. It’s so hard not to feel torn when you have to put the camera down when you’re having an “insider” moment; you want to show others what you’re experiencing cause it feels so rich. But it also feels wrong, like a betrayal of trust to the locals who let you enter. I get those moments too.

    Nice tips– the shaking the tea thing I’ve never known a culture to do yet.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Sometimes I feel really uncomfortable taking photos because it feels like I am making people a tourist attraction. And this one time I just wanted to enjoy it rather than worry about blogging about it.

  17. Raymond @ Man On The Lam says:

    There are times when need for the experience far outweighs the need for a photo. Glad you knew that!

  18. dtravelsround says:

    I love that you didn’t take any photos. I think there are some moments where you just need to be in the moment, and not getting the best shot. I am fascinated by the tea!

  19. Shaun once asked me why I stopped shooting in the middle of something amazing happening and I just turned to him and said, “Occasionally I just need to have moments that are mine.”

  20. Zablon Mukuba says:

    showing the soles of your feet is an insult? i never knew that

  21. I loved my visit to Feynan, although it seemed to involve more photos and less translation than yours. Still a moving experience…I must write it up!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That’s what is so great about travel, you can do the same thing as someone else but have a completely different experience.

  22. That’s incredible. I know the feeling of wanting to keep your camera away and just immerse yourself in the moment. I do that too often and sometimes lack photos of experiences, but I will always have them in my mind.

  23. Nomadic Samuel says:

    Sometimes moments are so special that trying to capture them on camera would ruin it – sounds wonderful.

  24. Wow, that sounds like a really incredible experience. I’m sure that the photos would have been great, but you’re right–sometimes it’s far more important to be present in the moment and take in what it really is. A camera distances you from what is actually happening. I can’t imagine being somewhere lit only by candlelight and that remote. Very cool!

  25. Camels & Chocolate says:

    Wow, that is way more authentic than my Bedouin experience. how cool!

  26. Wow, what an experience. Don’t apologise for having no pictures, hun. You totally did the right thing to be right there in the moment. It sounds like such a fascinating place.

  27. BakoymaTravels says:

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I fully understand the lack of pictures 🙂

    Made me curious though: who DO you serve first in a circle?

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