Jordan’s Bedouins traverse sands in search of desert spring

(Photos: Petra)
(Photos: Petra)
AMMAN — Bedouin herders in the east of Jordan are anxiously awaiting a late winter season — and on its heels a desert spring that will bring bounteous vegetation for pasturing their livestock. اضافة اعلان

Around this time every year, livestock owners set out on a journey in search of pastures where they can bring their flocks to settle and graze for a season, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

The people of Jordan’s Eastern Badia call this journey the “patrol”.

Three Bedouin families recently set out on their patrol. It would take them three days to journey through Bustanah, Al-Seeb, Muaizilah, and Al-Harra — areas east of Al-Ruwaished town near Jordan’s borders with Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

They brought with them all the supplies to make the trip and return home safely. Their aim was to find good pastures where they could move their flocks and belongings for the desert spring.

This is desert life in its purest form.

A close-knit communitySalem Al-Jabour is a livestock herder who was part of the recent patrol.  

In these remote parts of the Kingdom, Jabour said, locals have no outside contact with the rest of the world. The nearest point of contact is Al-Ruwaished, and whenever a desert-dweller decides to make the 100-km trek to the Ruwaished market, he brings back supplies for the neighbors as well.

This community follows old traditions of solidarity, cooperation, and interdependence, he said.

Setting outJabour explained to Petra that the livestock owners, traveling in groups, know how to spot the signs of a coming spring — areas that are likely to witness desert growth after unstable weather events such as those witnessed recently in Jordan.

But the journey in search of pastureland is not easy. Because of the risk of wheels becoming stuck in mud or sand, the livestock owners must travel in well-equipped vehicles, he explained.

On the morning of their departure, the families set out at dawn, filling their gas tanks at the last station in Al-Ruwaished.

“After that, we reached the Bustanah area, and along the way, all the low areas of the Badia were full of water,” Jabour recalled.

For the livestock herders, that was a good sign that the desert spring was coming, he said.

Bustanah has no landmarks except for an old outpost, but for residents, the presence of the Border Security Forces and the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army nearby is a source of comfort, he added.

A bump in the roadThey arrived to Al-Seeb next. This region, too, lacked landmarks, but had an artesian well.

“As expected,” Jabour said, “we ran into trouble when one of our vehicles got stuck.”

Fortunately, there were locals living nearby who helped them, so they were able to complete this leg of the trip, checking for signs of spring in Al-Seeb and Muaizilah.

“We spent the night with the people of the region, who honored us with food and drink,” Jabour recalled.

The talk of the locals that night revolved around areas where the rain falls and grass is likely to spring up, and stories of wild animals attacking their flocks.

“These are old stories that happen again and again, but they are proud of them,” Jabour reflected.

Completing the ‘patrol’According to the desert dweller, the most beautiful part of the trip was how everyone acted together, working for the well-being of the group.

“During the journey, on the second day, we decided to go to Al-Harra, an area full of black stones. The terrain there is rugged and difficult to cross, so we had to determine our route based on where the vehicles could go,” Jabour explained.

On the third day, they finished their inspection of the region at Al-Ashqaf hills, where the Jordanian authorities have constructed a number of wells to collect rain for the benefit of locals, farmers, and livestock herders.

Thus ended the “patrol” of the desert.

But the hopes of Jordan’s desert livestock herders are alive — hopes for a coming winter that will give way to spring, bringing with it vegetation to fill the bellies and udders of their flocks.

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