zaterdag 5 september 2015

Wifi in the desert?

Hello there!

After our trip to Petra on Friday, we went to the magnificent south of Jordan. The famous (because of Lawrence of Arabia) Al Wadi Rum valley, Beforehand we were informed that we would be spending the night in a Bedouin camp. Of course, as exciting as it sounds, I had already spend sometimes searching the internet for the so called 'Hillawi camp' and found very differing reviews from 'great experience' to 'too touristic'. This made me wondering about this 'Bedouin experience', whether this experience would be authentic or not, and above all: What is an authentic touristic experience?

As stated by Stephen Williams 1 the behavior of tourists is often shaped by the search for 'the' authentic experience, as an antidote to their own inauthentic and modern lives. Nevertheless most of the so called authentic experiences in the 'back' areas (such as Bedouin camps or small villages) are not the real experiences which the tourists seek for. Oftentimes these authentic experiences are staged, Williams calls it 'staged authenticity'  meaning that a tourist 'attraction' has just been made up for the authentic experience and therefore not that authentic.2 And what about the authenticity of Hillawi camp? Judge for yourself:

Not exactly what one would expect from an authentic Bedouin experience, especially when the camp is selling alcohol (in a Muslim country), has wireless internet and was playing western music (including disco-lights). Even though I realized (and I hope I was not the only one) that we were not staying in a real Bedouin camp I still enjoyed the evening and the experience. Above all we were in the desert, not something you can say everyday. We were all so given the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful sunset in the Wadi Rum. Something I will not forget that easily and can not be 'staged' that easily..

1. S. Williams. Tourism geography - A new synthesis , Second ed. Taylor & Francis e-library: Routledge ; 2009. pp 134-155.2. Ibidem p. 134-155

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