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Fourteen pupils from Year 9 and two staff travelled to Jordan over half term, to experience middle-eastern culture and visit historical sites and places of interest, including two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Following on from their Peak District team-building event in April, where the group waded through metre-high snow drifts as part of their training, the group were immediately struck by the 40 degree heat upon arriving in Jordan, but soon acclimatised and became accustomed to eating falafel and hummus three times a day.
The first major challenge for the students was to negotiate the busy streets of Amman in search of a bank and mobile phone shop, so that they could begin organising their accommodation and transport for the week. With limited knowledge of Arabic, the students successfully coordinated movement from the capital to Aqaba in the south of the country and back again, ensuring that they would have sufficient funds to complete their itinerary.
After a full day in Amman, the group were relieved to spend the next day in the relative peace of Dana, a nature reserve in the heart of the country, packed with a diverse array of wildlife and plant species. On their second day in the reserve, the students were able to camp out and enjoy the thrill of watching the sun rise and set on the same day in the most tranquil of environments, before moving further south.
Listed as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, Petra was to be the highlight of the expedition. Despite the intense heat and overwhelming stench of camel dung, the Nabatean city fully lived up to expectations and will provide some fantastic memories for all involved.
Next on the itinerary was a 4X4 experience amongst the outstanding scenery of the Wadi Rum, as well as the opportunity to camp out under the starlit sky in a Bedouin camp.
As a break from the heat, the final two days of the expedition were spent in the water, firstly snorkelling in the Red Sea at Aqaba and then floating in the Dead Sea, before returning back to Amman for a final opportunity to practise the art of haggling for souvenirs.
The hospitality received in Jordan was overwhelming. The group were made to feel very welcome in all parts of the country and there was clearly a keen interest in developing tourism. Despite the geographical location of Jordan, there was very little evidence of the difficulties being experienced in its neighbouring countries. This friendly and historic country with its many attractions will provide the group with numerous happy and lasting memories.
A full presentation of the expedition by the students, with stories and photographs, will be given in the Thai Lecture Theatre on Wednesday 26th June at 6pm for anyone who would like to attend.