Sunday, September 13, 2015

Wadi Rum – A sunset in the desert

     Critiques on the touristic gaze by newer theories mention the fact that people perceive their surroundings according to certain values and as a consequence also sense (with all the senses) their environment subjectively. More adventurous activities such as skateboarding or bungee jumping for instance, do not mainly pursue the visual, but involve other sense as well. Embodiment and the More-than-representational theory regard nature, body and other elements as interdependent. Moreover, the fact that even staged performances, where it is usually very clear who is the performer and the spectator, increasingly try to engage the spectator in the staged performance or provoke certain feelings through a more dramatic representation of the facts. This draws more attention to an experience involving more senses than the visual as well as steps away from the idea of only conveying knowledge. Additionally, the ‘synesthesia’ of the ‘touch with the visual, the aural and the olfactory’ can have a significant influence in how one’s body experiences and feels a certain place.
In relation to the abovementioned theory and interrelation between senses, I fully agree that what we smell, feel, touch in the nearest proximity to our bodies, adds a lot to our tourist experience, in addition to what we see. While I find this applicable to the entire trip in Jordan, spending a night in the desert comprised the most of these feelings in one place and one moment.
After visiting Petra, we drove to Wadi Rum where we headed to the mountains in the desert to watch the sunset. As the sand was slowly rippling into our shoes we took them off and walked barefoot. Naturally, feeling the hot sand on our feet added to the experience of being in the desert and seeing it. While the sun was setting, we all took numerous pictures but as the batteries of our cameras grew tired of taking pictures, we had to stop and enjoy. The heat of the last sunbeams, the golden light and the feel of the warm rocks that we climbed in order to see the sunset made this experience even more memorable. Looking at the pictures I had taken up there on the desert mountain, I realized that the feel of the sunbeams, the warm rock and the light as it was there in that particular moment are feelings that we can talk about but are not something that we can capture and take with us to experience at home, far away from Wadi Rum.      

Tim Edenson, ‘Tourism’ International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (2009), 308-309. Dorina Maria Buda, Affective Tourism Dark routes in conflict (Routledge, 2015), 29-30.

Found a great spot on a desert mountain in Wadi Rum.

No picture can describe the feel of the heat of the last sunbeams, the golden
light and warm rock as it was there in that particular moment.  
Trying to capture the last sunbeams before the sun set.

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