I was standing on the rock formation known as the ‘Little Bridge’ in Wadi Rum, posed for a classic tourist photo.
I am not in the habit of appearing in my photographs. However, on this occasion, I needed some scale to convey the dimension of the scene.
Now, I am no conventional ‘matchbox’ and the ‘Little Bridge’ would have looked less ‘little’ with anyone else standing on it, but needs must when it couldn’t be otherwise.
I felt uncomfortable.
Many would hasten to point out that they, too, would feel uncomfortable if they were dressed like me.
But that wasn’t it.
I was, then as I am now, oblivious to fashion. The conflicting visual aesthetic of my hat, shirt and trousers were in my mind offset by the unity they displayed in their complete unsuitability for my person.
Nor was it the height of the drop.
A fall, if it wouldn’t be too far down, which in this case it wasn’t, held the promise of a good anecdote. And if it would be too far…, well, then at least it would be a memorable passage.
The ‘Little Bridge’ was not the only rock bridge in Wadi Rum, nor was it the most majestic one. But, it was the one closest to the visitor centre, and therefore included as the first stop on nearly all tours of Wadi Rum.
Its absence was likely to be noted, should it no longer be there.
The very presence of a natural stone arch is testament to rock that whithers and erodes quickly. This stone arch was not so sturdy as to be unbreakable—one day it would.
I spoke a silent prayer under my breath that that day would be some time in the distant future. And, that if it was ordained to be on this day, to make it in the afternoon.
My fear, in summary, was the prospect of entering into Jordanian tourism history as the man who broke the Little Bridge—the man who took from the world, permanently and irreparably, one of the most visited attractions in Wadi Rum.
By divine intervention, defiance of physics or sheer luck, I do not know; but, to my knowledge, the bridge is still there.