an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.
an unfortunate incident; a mishap.
You see, though the words are SO close together, they couldn’t be more different. The story begin with my love for yoga and meditation and of course “Tangled”. I know you are now wondering how they are related, but don’t rush me, I will get to the point soon enough.
In 2010, Walt Disney released another fairy-tale movie of one of my favorites fairy tales since I was a kid: “Rapunzel”.
let down your hair,
so that I may climb
the golden stair
But instead of the real fairy-tale, Disney made a twist (or more) in the story and modernized it a bit, one of my favorite features in the movie was Rapunzel’s enchanted attachment to flying lanterns. I thought the whole paper lanterns thing was a Disney thing, than in 2012 I saw an actual flying lantern close to the place I used to work in and my infatuation flickered! I tried finding a place that sells the lanterns but in vain and most of my friends don’t share my infatuation with them, so they couldn’t help either!
So when October 2013 came and a new event loomed in November that held my lanterns and meditation in the same event I couldn’t help myself, I called and got two tickets, a few girlfriends wanted in but couldn’t make it at the end, so my mom and I decided to make a day of it.
We went to the group that organized the event’s house and got two tickets and two water lanterns as well, this was another twist that made the event more appealing to me because it’s so Bollywood. The event was organized by the “Jordanian Thai Center for Mediation, Self-Development and Cultural Promotion” , the woman who gave us the lanterns and tickets -Queenie- told us that the event is going to be held in Dead Sea, in the “Winter Valley Warwick Resort & Spa Dead Sea”, I heard of the place through social media but I’ve never been there, so we assumed its going to be close to all the other lined-up hotels in the district.
Oh, boy! We were so wrong!
You see, since the hideous political events that took hold through the Arabic World, Jordan’s relationship with its neighbors though it remains strong was affected as well, so for instance we had to cut down the use of electricity that used to be provided from Egypt.
To anyone else, that might not have mattered much, but to moi, this was a deathtrap awaiting to happen! You see, I have this tiny tini problem with directions. I get lost so easily! I guess you might put it like this: “I don’t have a sense of direction.” My sense of direction is poor to the point of being ridiculous, especially when it’s SO dark all the way down to the lowest point on earth!
Suha and I decided to hit the road about an hour to 45 minutes before the road trip, I asked Suha before if we should have used the bus with the other participants, she was like “the car is better and faster.” And I bought it up.
I drove, because Suha hates driving for long, it makes her nervous and a nervous Suha is not something anyone can easily handle. Well, I guess “Like mother, like daughter”.
The road was loaded with cops, just waiting with their tiny notepads to give us a “speeding ticket” at every corner in a highway! You see when I leave Amman, I like driving a bit faster, it’s refreshing after all the stifling daily traffic jam, but oh no, the Jordanian cops won’t have any of that! They want me to drive at 80 in an empty road!
I almost got a ticket and I spent 25 minutes begging the police officer to let me go ticket free… I’m glad to say it worked but he had me to promise to drive under 80 until I reached my destination or the other police patrols will defiantly give me a speeding ticket.
We drove like turtles, Suha was mad at me, she got on my nerves, so we stopped talking, while we argued the roads became more deserted and ominously dark! We had to go for the bright white lights to see clearly and finally around 6:30 we reached the Dead Sea checkpoint. We tried getting directions for the “Winter Valley Warwick Resort”, but no one seemed to know where it’s located, I began to freak out royally, part because I like to be punctual and part because we were lost.
Finally after going back and forth, we suspected a dark street to be the right street, but we ended up in a dead end with so many dark trees. We found two girls in a car there, I thought they were lost too, so I opened the window and asked them if they were lost like us, the looked pale and stared at me with huge eyes, shaking their head no, Suha was laughing so hard beside me, I asked her “What’s so funny?” She was like: “You just scared them to death, these two girls are waiting for guys and wanting to get hot and heavy and you just caught them in the act!” I was shocked!
We switched places and Suha got us to this creepy gas station, there we asked about the damn hotel and a guy volunteered to drive us there for a tip, we agreed.
Let me tell you this right now, following that guy in one deserted street after another in the middle of nowhere almost gave a heart attack, with all the horror movies I watched came rushing in to me, I feared the worst, only to be greeted with an ominously dark and creepy building, the dude said this is it, we tipped him and he left.
I told Suha: “I don’t like this place one bit. There is no one here, and the lights in the lobby are so dark.” She was like: “Relax, if we don’t like it, we’ll leave.”
We entered the lobby and two silent unsmiling guys greeted us with string eyes, my freaking-out-mood increased. We asked about the event, they told us to take the elevator, we walked around searching for the damn thing, we found it, and walked, more silence welcomed us to an empty hall, we walked fast, we found a lit huge room that seemed like the dinner hall, with silent waiters arranging stuff. No people anywhere.
My nerves broke; I slapped my hand on the glass getting the attention of one of the guys, who took his time coming to us, I said angrily, losing it: “Where is the damn event?! There is no one here!”
The guy smiled and said: ” it’s down by the beach”. As if that would make me calmer. I mean the whole area was empty and dark! We walked with him to the guard, who seemed creepy, than 5 men appeared from nowhere asking me if something was wrong, I answered that yes, something was extremely wrong with this place, that had no sign on the highway and everything was so dark, one of the guys laughed and asked me what am I doing here, I told him that I was part of the meditation event, he remarked that I was too nervous to be into meditation, I glared, he laughed some more, told me to relax, the guard ordered a bus to come and get us, the man told me he was the hotel’s owner. Oops!
While in the bus, the whole groups of manager and us kind of relaxed and laughed, but I guess we laughed and talked too loudly because when we got to the area there was so much silence and this woman’s voice telling everyone to relax and embrace nature. I laughed so hard, we were on the lowest point on earth where even germs can’t survive, there was no nature, the dead sea water itself if not used wisely is very harmful.
In any case, we took our seats right in the back, Suha tried to relax and close her eyes and listen to the woman, but as for me, the energy was firing inside of me, I couldn’t just sit and relax. One guy from across lit his flower lantern on fire while relaxing! I laughed so hard silently that the manager of the hotel was in tears too, couldn’t stand it and left to sit even more far away.
After a few minutes, I knew that tonight wasn’t my night, so I stood up and started taking photos, after a few snaps, the meditation was over we lit our lanterns and made them flow with our wishes in the dead sea.
That was the moment I began to relax and enjoy myself thoroughly… In Indian movies, we see them cast their wishes in the water in a form of a prayer… my mom said: “This is the worst place to wish for a new start where everything is dead.” I disagreed… When Hajir, prophet Ibrahim’s wife was left in the desert with her infant baby boy, she prayed for water, and Allah created water, sent from heaven to earth in a desert… I believe in the power of praying. However, in witchcraft, the full moon isn’t the wisest phase for a new leaf, the new moon is.
I closed my eyes and wished, prayed, hoped, talked to Allah silently, while people did the same and finished I was still in my mantra… entranced by my collective silent wishes.
When I let go, I felt something change in me, watching my flower lantern head off in the dead water… maybe something beautiful will come out of such a deserted place where nothing lives.
When I turned my head to my mom’s voice, I was surprised to see the hugest sky lanterns ever! I expected small things for each of us, but this was a bonding time and the people were all excited, laughing, standing in groups, ready to fly the lanterns.
Suha and I looked at each other grinning and headed to the closest group, we couldn’t hide our excitement! People we laughing like kids, taking photos, enthralled to see all the lanterns up in the sky.
Suha and I were in a group where no one listened to the other! One woman almost ripped the lantern! She was pushing us wanting to let it fly quickly while all of us where shouting and say “hold on, just one second!” In any case, I won’t retell the whole thing! It was funny in a silly way!
When the lanterns started flying I was shocked and mesmerized by their astonishing beauty! I felt like Rapunzel in Tangled… totally enchanted… I laid on the beach and watched them go up, up, up until they looked like tiny starts then… no more.
I felt like a kid… I couldn’t let go… then the romantic moment was broken by ‘broken English’ when the organizing team stared tell us to head to the buses and to have our dinner.
We head to the buses and before we reached it, a group of the team handed us wet warm towels to clean ourselves up from the beach and sand. I cleaned my toes, wore my Adidas sneakers on and Suha and I took the first bus back.
The dinner was okay, not as delicious as we hoped, we found one of our gym friends there and he joined us for dinner. While eating dessert, we met Mrs. Vlchuda Stkalanas a meditation guru for 28 years who exclaimed that my aura is so bright like fire! I laughed and we sincerely enjoyed her wisdom. Though one girl, I met before in Souk Jara was SO mean to me as always, said I disturbed her meditation and I shouldn’t have come, I told her to kiss it! I hate such people, if you have nothing pleasant to say, PLEASE remain silent, we don’t want to hear it!
We headed home… In all honesty I don’t remember who drove back, maybe it was me. It was an easy quick drive. We laughed and talked about it all the way back.
Namaste everyone! It was a night to remember! And a night Suha still laughs at when she remembers!