The Bdoul Bedouin no longer live inside Petra, that ancient city in the south of Jordan. They no longer set up their tents of woven hair on the long, wind-catching ridges and invite passing tourists to share a cup of tea in the shade, an evening meal, or even a place to sleep as they did when I met my husband there in the summer of 1978.
I was from New Zealand; Mohammad had been born in one of the caves.
Married to a Bedouin is the story of how I fell in love with Mohammad Abdallah and married him; how I settled into his cave, and slept with him on the ledge in front under a sheet of stars; how I learned to fetch water by donkey, bake bread daily and how I ran the local clinic.
Seven years later, in 1985, when the Bedouin were resettled to the Umm Sayhoon village on a hillside overlooking Petra, I was a part of the tribe.
And since then I have been a part of the story of Petra. I worked alongside Mohammad selling sand bottles, t-shirts and later silver jewellery and people always asked how come I was there. As I answered their questions about the life here, married to my Bedouin and living in the valley of Petra, I realised that time was moving quickly and the life I was describing was difficult to see. That’s when I started thinking of all the stories I had to tell.
Through these stories, my own and the stories of the people I shared the valley with, I offer the recent history of Petra.