Most of the Jordanian population is of Bedouin heritage, sometimes called “pure blood”. They are the original population of Jordan long before the borders where established.
Drinking tea in Jordan is never about tea. It is not about its benefits, it is about the ritual, about the welcoming you and the chance to have a good chat. It is a perfect way to understand another way of life and the way they guide themselves. You will be surprised in a good way by this enigmatic people.
While in Jordan, we met our share of Bedouins; some of them businessmen, guides, and shepherds, others just simply people living their normal Bedouin life.
Although most of the Bedouins in Jordan have traded their traditional existence for the convenience of modern life, nonetheless, Bedouin culture still survives in Jordan. Along the way, our Bedouin hosts shared some of their life, traditions, and customs with us and it was a rewarding experience.
Bedouins of Petra
In Petra, we found out that Bedouins are still living in the old caves.
This Bedouin tribe claim to be descended from the Nabataeans and even today the Bedouins live among the tombs and caves of Petra, of course, most of them moved away from the site when Petra became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
They come here every day to act as tour guides or entertainment, with camel and donkey rides.
We met a young Bedouin that showed us (for a cost of course) a shortcut to the panoramic view above Treasury.
He climbed the rocks like it was the easiest thing to do and when we looked at his feet he was wearing sandals. He was used to climbing these rocks. Once at the top we had the chance to drink a cup of fresh tea and have a small chat with him.
He told us that he was living in a cave not far from here. He was heating the cave with a simple fire and he was fine with this heating system.
Being very intrigued by the “Captain Sparrow” look of many Bedouins we asked about it. He told us that the reason for men to use black eyeliner is that this is the traditional way to protect their eyes from the sun as an alternative to sunglasses.
Bedouins of Little Petra
In Little Petra, we chose to stay in a Bedouin Camp and we chose Little Petra Bedouin Camp and our hosts were simply amazing. Little Petra Camp is owned and operated by a Bedouin family from Petra and it is an eco-friendly camp that offers a traditional and real Bedouin experience. Waleed and his staff made us feel like home. The atmosphere and authenticity were also amazing. Here we saw a businessman type of Bedouin. He applied the Bedouin traditions and customs in his business and his business flourish.
Bedouins of Wadi Rum
In Wadi Rum desert we met a different type of Bedouins. Here most of the Bedouins are of the Zalabia tribe, a very big and united family. They all call each other cousins. Wadi Rum Bedouins used to be nomads, moving their camps all over the desert. Now a small portion of Bedouin can still be regarded as true nomads, while many have settled down to cultivate crops rather than drive their animals across the desert. Most Bedouin have combined the two lifestyles: nomadic and modern. For some months they live in the desert either working in tourism or practice pastoralism with camels or goats, the rest of the months they live in small villages at the border of the desert.
We spent 2 days in Wadi Rum in a very remote desert camp sleeping in tents. Here we had the opportunity to meet and speak with the Bedouins at a cup of black tea.
They told us that this is the way that they can live free, here in the desert, sleeping outside under the stars.
They were very proud of their culture and traditions based on a code of honor calling for total loyalty to the clan and tribe.
It is said that Bedouins are outside the governing authority of the state and that tribal legal code in many instances overpowers Jordanian civil law.
To have the chance to speak with these people is an unbelievable experience. To share unique insights on the Bedouin s history, lifestyle, and culture at a cup of tea around a fire, with Bedouin music in the background.