by Marguerite van Geldermalsen
Fri 14 Aug 09
I'm hoping to make it to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan on my year long trip through Europe, Turkey and Egypt; so when I came across this book I was anxious to read it. Marguerite van Geldermalsen was just another twenty-something backpacker from New Zealand traveling with a friend when she came to Petra. She really didn't even know much about Jordan or Petra but was looking for adventure. Mohammad Abdallah Othman was a souvenir-seller who convinced her to stay with him in his cave. He must have been quite the salesman.
They married, had 3 children and lived in that cave, carved out by the Nabataeans 2,000 years before. Her story is fascinating, although somewhat unsettling to me. Clearly, I have my limits. She had no electricity, no running water, no heat and especially, no privacy. Hiking down to the water supply with a donkey and loading up the jerry cans with water then trekking back to her cave just doesn't cut it for me. I must say, Mohammad definitely had charisma and initiative; but even so, I just don't get it. She did become a part of their tribe and it was a very close knit community. Furthermore, she had a level of independence the other women didn't seem to share, often sitting with the men while the women clustered together in a separate tent. Marguerite and Mohammad visited her family in New Zealand and stayed for several months; he even managed to get a job. But, they both realized that they missed the closeness of the extended family back in Jordan and the free and easy way of life, dropping in on each other, constantly surrounded by friends and family. So Petra is where they made their life.
This is a compelling story of converting to a completely different way of life, language and religion. Marguerite is an interesting person and her descriptions of the various characters she lived and worked with make for great reading. I think I'll be viewing Petra with a completely different viewpoint.
If you're thinking about going to Petra or just want to read a story that you will become completely immersed in, you can find
Married to a Bedouin at Amazon.
About the reviewer
After 5 years of planning and millions of hours on-line, Claire and her husband Chuck are traveling through Europe in a motorhome for one year. Follow their journey at European Adventures