Life in the Cave [an instructional post]

Many of you have been asking about Jordan.  My daily life, my living conditions.  So, I decided to do a post about it.. a "behind the scenes" if you will.  Living in a cave in the Middle East.  No electricity, no running water.  2 months.  Sounds hard, but mainly it was dreamy.  So, in photo format, here is a story and images so you can see what I have been up to.  

This was the home.  The set up of the caves.   There were three, a fourth in a totally different location was being built about a mile away on private land.  These caves were from 400 B.C., on government land, they are open for anyone to live in.  Private lands have caves too, but you have to own the land to sleep there.  On government land you can take anything that no one is currently living in.  Locked up by a door you (or previous tenants have installed), it is safe.  Your belongings are safe.  It's like a home.  It is a home.

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The kitchen.  A built cave.. more like stone hut with a bamboo roof and tarps over the top to prevent rain from creeping in.  Yes, it rained   And when it rained, flash floods happened, making every road and valley extremely dangerous.  Slot canyons death traps.

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Inside the kitchen cave at night.  Candlelight, editing some photos.  There is a light at the top of the photo that can be plugged into a generator.  I think in two months we used it 3 times, only when we had a lot of company.  I'm sitting by the fire where you could cook slow dinners or just be warm.  There was a gas stove for quicker meals.  Also, the kitchen doubled as a bedroom for Ghassab (the cave owner) and many of the local Bedouins who would come at night to hang out and often sleep over.

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This was my cave.. a sign outside carved in Arabic saying "Christine's Cave" to prove it.

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This is inside.  Simple, kept my things, I slept here.  Notice the rug---it's of The Treasury.  One of the main monuments in Petra.  Which I find to be humorous.

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The landscape was amazing where I was at.  These are some of the rocks outside of my cave at night.

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To light fire, we had to find firewood.  In a desert, this is hard.  Bedouins have found a trick to this problem: digging up ancient roots.  There are plenty of them anywhere you dig.  Vineyards and forests used to be everywhere.  Now, you just have to dig and you have firewood for the night.

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One of the other cooking methods was this stove Ghassab made from an old can of olive oil.  Bent pipe inside, you build a little fire in the opening and put your pot on top.  It's just like a stove.

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Wildlife in Petra was not as abundant as I thought.  There were no creepy-crawly things lingering in my cave.  No snakes to watch out for.  I was there in winter though, I hear summer can be worse.  However, we did have a handful of pets.  A donkey at one point (who ran away during a thunderstorm and never came back), twelve cats (4 were pregnant , two rabbits (one pregnant), and my dog which only lasted a few days before his owner came and found him.  I was hiking one day when he came around and followed me home.  He slept outside my cave, blocking the door when I got up and would follow me to the kitchen where he would stay all day until I went to bed again at night.  I would like to say it was because he was protecting me, but in reality it was probably all my leftover chicken I was feeding him..

middle eastern homes
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The rabbits!  Always together, always in love.

The wild pet cats.  They created havoc all day and slept in the car at night.  If you were sleeping outside though, or in the kitchen, often you would wake up, having collected cats all night, with three or seven on top of you.

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When I was not hiking, photographing, working, or going on tours, I was helping with a new cave.  The one on private land.  I was a demolition queen, tearing down a wall and then helping to carry stones to make terraces.  One day it will have a big outdoor kitchen, place of tents, and a selection of fruit trees.

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Steps to the new cave.  It has 56 aloe plants!  Collected from the mountains and planted to use for medicine.  Aloe plants were Ghassab's specialty, one of the main things he used to treat a variety of illnesses.  Notice that beautiful red door in the background?  That was my project.  I painted it then smothered it with sand while it was wet in hopes of making it blend into the rocks a bit.

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Me with Ghassab's famous pink car.  Older than I am, that car got me through mountains, sand dunes, and floods.  It was how I got water and food from the village.