Left Field and No-Man’s Land

Desert land.  Stretching far beyond the eye can see, the rising haze playing games with your perception.  That’s what much of Jordan and Israel are like.

So what’s the great danger in these harsh lands, other than being caught without water?  No, not terrorists.

Get ready for it.

Sign in the Desert

Sign in the Israeli Desert

I kid thee not.  Flash floods apparently do occur in certain areas of the desert.  They’ve lost entire groups of tourists out by Petra, Jordan’s gem ancient city, and in the desert surrounding Israel’s Masada, a symbol of martyrdom which stands remote on a mountain top near the Dead Sea.

Can you imagine that–dying of a flood in a desert?  A more interesting and memorable way to go than being run over by a car in Georgia, or hit by a Wall Street business wonk dashing in to work.

Jordanian Vessels, Near Petra

Jordanian Vessels in the Desert Near Petra

I went to both countries with my dad last summer, taking a two week break from Georgia.  My dad sprung Petra on me as a surprise.  WHAT a surprise.  It was gorgeous.  And I wish I had more shots, but my camera collapsed of exhaustion and refused to function.

Coming back into Israel proved a mite difficult for me.  The guards reckoned me for an Israeli citizen by virtue of my background, and kept asking for my non-existent Israeli ID.  Amusing.  My dad rescued me from no-man’s land.  So much time spent in no-man’s land that summer of 2008.  A metaphor for the year, or for my life?  Time may tell.

In August 2008, I’d spent about five hours between Georgia and Armenia, escaping the Russian incursion.  It was, to say the least, a stressful time for everyone, not least the Georgian staff, who were amazing.  But one thing really gave me a chuckle.

Peace Corps was set on our safety, of course.  Their number one goal, as they iterated.  When the bombing started, we gathered in a southern town in Georgia, all the volunteers from throughout the country making their way there with Peace Corps’ help.  We waited there for a few days, coalescing.  Every day we had three to five meetings with staff to discuss the situation.  And this is what amused me:

The plan was, if the Russians actually invaded, if one Russian boot stepped foot on Georgian soil, if a true land invasion began, then we’d leave.  That moment.

Why did I find that funny?  Because apparently the Russian boot was more dangerous than the Russian bomb; their planes were flying overhead and bombing with impunity, the Georgian air force being negligible.  (I should note that the Russians were targeting airbases so Peace Corps’ decision wasn’t as arbitrary as it might seem.)  🙂

Ah well.  Eventually their army indeed decided to make their point more vividly, and the Russians did soil Georgian land with their army boots, and we in turn moved south too, but to Armenia, which seemed not a whit disturbed by the war to the north, focused as they were on the Olympics.

Such is life.

And a bonus Petra shot for the day:

Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan


About sputnitsa

Born in the US, I grew up in Africa and the West Indies, and returned stateside in my teens. After a decade in international development, democracy work, and inclusivity training for domestic NGOs, I joined Peace Corps, and after a year, experienced my first Russian invasion. I followed that up by volunteering with refugees and youth, and after some vacation time climbing minarets and mountains, I returned to New York City, where today I work on social justice with college students, produce short films, and write.
This entry was posted in Armenia, Caucasus, escape, frontiers, funny, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Masada, Peace Corps, Petra, photos, Russian invasion, the unplanned, travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Left Field and No-Man’s Land

  1. sayssara says:

    We went to Israel a couple of years ago – did Masala and the Dead Sea – fascinating. I didn’t know the Dead Sea is now two smaller seas instead one larger one due to evaporation, until I saw it.

    Haven’t been to Jordan yet. On the list of places to see. I’d love to do Petra.


  2. sputnitsa says:

    Petra’s gorgeous and definitely worth the visit. We went during Ramadan, which meant we really didn’t see many people on the street in Akaba later that afternoon. Folks were probably escaping the heat and getting ready for dusk to break the fast. I have to say I found the desert in Jordan so evocatively beautiful. 🙂 Definitely visit 🙂

    And yeah, the Dead Sea is receding so much. :-/

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