A Travellerspoint blog

August 2009

Married to a Bedouin

by Marguerite van Geldermalsen

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

Posted by Claire312 15:38 Comments (5)

A Salty Piece of Land

by Jimmy Buffett


Being the consummate "Parrotheads" that we are, Kris (aka beerman) could not resist diving into one of our favorite musician's 2004 contribution to the literary world. He read it while I was off exploring the lighthouses of North Carolina's Outer Banks with a friend one week. With each "check-in" phone call, Kris would tell me I had to read this book when I returned home. Having personally read Buffett's other works: Where is Joe Merchant?: A Novel Tale, A Pirate Looks at Fifty and a portion of Tales from Margaritaville (got distracted and never finished it - but will!), I agreed. And, I did.

"A Salty Piece of Land" is the follow-up book to "Tales from Margaritaville" but they are not mutually inclusive. One does not have to read the first book to enjoy the second. (I know - I didn't finish Tales and had no recollection of its storyline when starting Salty.) It is a tale totally unto itself.

In this book, you will follow the trails, trials and tribulations of Tully Mars, a misplaced "cowboy in the jungle". Mars (and his trusty horse, Mr. Twain) boldly escape their existence, hired hands on a poodle ranch in Wyoming, and soon find themselves tour guides at a fishing resort in the Caribbean. An adventure spurred on by a simple conch shell given to Tully years earlier. (Okay, Tully's horse doesn't become a tour guide but he gets to go to the Caribbean just the same. Lucky horse.) Once there, Mars' life is turned upside-down. He will encounter Cleopatra Highbourne, the 103-year-old captain of the ancient schooner, Lucretia, who ultimately sends him on a life-altering quest. As his journey navigates the Caribbean as skillfully as Cleopatra's schooner, Mars is befriended by some very eclectic characters - all drawn in to help with Tully's cause. If you have a thing for old lighthouses, sea breezes, horses and any number of other things - this is a book for you!

I must admit that Buffett's writing style is a bit simplistic - no better or worse than a mix of Bill Bryson and Carl Hiaasen. (I love both.) It's an easy read but will keep you turning the pages as the main character realizes his goal in life. If nothing else, you'll love Cleopatra Highbourne. Like his songs, Buffett's books are that of a storyteller and that's what makes them interesting.

We also have Buffett's latest book, Swine Not?: A Novel Pig Tale, staring at us from the shelf and hoping we'll open the cover soon.

Isa now leaves to rediscover "Tales from Margaritaville". Hey, "Swine Not?"

You can find this book on Amazon: A Salty Piece of Land

Posted by Isadora 13:09 Comments (0)

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