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Earlier this year, a friend and I embarked on a lifelong dream to travel to the Middle East. The plan was only Turkey and Israel. Well, it was really just Israel but I’ve always been fascinated with Turkey’s equally strong European and Asian influences. I have also seen great pictures from friends who’ve been there. One thing led to another and Jordan got snuck in there because it’s so close to Israel. It’s so near it seems like a stone’s throw away from the southern border of Eilat. It’s a hyperbole of course.

We spent only 2 full days in Jordan. I think this is a mistake because this country has so much to offer. At any rate, it didn’t matter that it was a short period of time. It was enough to stir something up in my heart. Those 2 days have got to be one of the highlights of the trip. I was pleasantly surprised to find Petra so achingly beautiful. It is also slightly heartbreaking because of the Bedouin children who had to work so early in life.

Here are some portraits I took of the charming and endearing children of Petra, the children of the red desert:

Children of the red desert
Petra’s “Afghan Girl”

Despite her sweet smile, her haunting look reminded me of the famous “Afghan girl” photo shot by a National Geographic photographer. I met her during our tour of Petra. She was selling some postcards to the group while I snapped photos of her. I felt compelled to give her some money after taking her pictures because I was not interested in buying her postcards. She accepted the money but only after insisting that I take some of her cards in return. She felt embarrassed to take the cash without rendering any “service”. After much convincing from me, she reluctantly accepted.Her picture now hangs in our family room, along with some other black and white portraits.

Mr. Personality

Here’s another young salesman in Petra. He’s so small it’s hard to tell how old he is. He also looks much older than his age. I’m guessing he’s about 9 years old. He really should be in school but instead he was there trying to make a living under the scorching Jordanian sun. He caught my attention while he was busy closing a sale with a foreigner. Once he was no longer distracted, he realized that I was taking his pictures and not buying anything. I don’t know why I didn’t just give him money. At any rate, he wasn’t too happy with me, judging from the frustrated look on his face and some yelling in the local language towards my direction.

The Shy One

He’s the boy with the impish grin. I met him while we were on a coffee break along one of Jordan’s highways. He was looking at me so I pulled out my camera and took some photos of him. He pretended to be shy at first but eventually started smiling and striking a pose. His father playfully spanked him for being “rowdy”. Twenty pictures later, it was time to say goodbye. Our naughty little friend gave us a smile, albeit I saw a hint of slight sadness on his face.. And then we were off to Wadi Rum.

Click here for some of the pictures from Turkey.

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