The Jordanian bedouins are the original rockstars of the desert. Nomadic pirates that are now living remnants of ancient days gone past. Over two thousand years ago in the huge desert city of Petra, solar power was discovered and this is where the first electric guitar was invented. The budding musician would lay his rababa (stringed instrument) in the sun for an hour and then would have about 20 minutes of amplified playing time at their disposal. Rocks and Roll was born. Since speakers weren’t invented yet, the bedouins carved small enclaves all over the landscape which they stood in and played amplifying the sound even further across the landscape. More and more bedouins started to gain the adulated status of Rocks Stardom.
Since competition was fierce, the Nabatean musicians would dress up to outdo each other, growing their hair long and wearing eyeliner (kohl) and donning large scarves and jackets. Huge concerts were arranged and more and more extravagant caves were chiseled from the mountains to appease the public masses of the time. Even donkeys were used as instruments-long lines of the animals were arranged by the pitch of their ‘hee-haww’ and a man with a stick would run up and down and whip their backsides to make a tune. This was to be the beginning of the first rock/orchestra musical collaboration. (Rocks and Roll became huge in this part of the desert until the romans arrived, destroyed all of Petra’s instruments, and instead introduced ‘Prisoners Being Eaten Alive by Lions’ as a national pastime.)
Also, because of the extreme heat, people would have to drink copious amounts of liquids, in fact you cannot walk more than ten metres without someone offering you a cup of tea, because they are worried you may be at imminent risk of dying of thirst. To clear your lungs you would then generally smoke a kilo of tobacco through a hookah (water pipe device) in the same tea-drinking session. The bedouins have kept this tradition up until this very day, but western rockstars seemed to have lost something in translation, and for some reason substituted tea with alcohol and tobacco with crack cocaine.
Over the centuries the Bedouins have kept their cool mystique and still live amongst the many abandoned caves that are scattered around the ruins of Petra today. Wandering souls and weary travellers that stumble upon the region, marvel at the ancient peoples’ sense of style and dress. Astride majestic donkeys, the Bedouins of present day will disarm you with their charm and cheekily demand that you have a ride on their magical steed.
It is impressive to watch incredibly fat tourists astride these long-suffering beasts meander up the rocky mountains, led by these Pirates of the Nabatean, set on a backdrop of thousands of years of history and to a musical score of well-tuned donkeys hee-hawing into the sunset.
Rocks and Roll man, it’s never gonna die.
- Kilometres travelled- 10 959km
- Flat tyres (broken donkey legs)- 4
- Incarcerations- 0
- Number of times I was asked to ride a donkey- At least a thousand fucking times.
Jordan-land of the rockstar pirates…