middle east: when nightmares are too real

Posted in Jordan, Middle East, Solo Travel by

I’m not usually a victim of nightmares or dreams. My last dream a few months ago was that I was expecting…I could even describe it to my pregnant colleague and she nodded her head to my description about how the first few months felt like. My dreams can sometimes feel quite realistic – which is nice if I dream about nice things but not when I have nightmares. I have ever dreamed of things that had tears rolling down my face and waking up to find my pillow soaked in tears.

And then I had the worst nightmare ever.

The whole Wadi Rum tour went quite smoothly. The guide was a young 19-20 year old Bedouin. He made some flirty remarks throughout the day which had me rolling my eyes and I brushed it off. Come the night when we were all readied for bed (we were all in a communal tent), I had ZH flanking the front of my bed pallet and Kevin at the foot. The guide and cook were at the opposite side of the tent. Since we were told that the light would be left on, I took out my eye mask and fastened it over my head. I promptly fell asleep at 10+pm.

I woke up at about 1am. Shivering in the cold desert weather. Kevin and I had decided not to take a blanket from the tent because it didn’t look very clean. ZH was smart enough to take one. I quickly took out my down jacket from my backpack and snuggled under it. Then I went back to sleep with my mask on.

(See the green bag at the left hand side? That was where my pallet was located)

THEN THE NIGHTMARE STARTED. Note: It was a real nightmare.

I dreamed that I was asleep and woke up to the guide hovering over me. Just about to pounce and grope me. I could taste the fear, the helplessness and the anger. The main emotion? Acute anger and a fierce determination I would not take any harassment sitting down. I remembered thinking that “THIS IS NOT HAPPENING!!”. And in my dreams I remembered that I had my two travel companions flanking me and I screamed.

AND THAT WAS WHEN I WOKE UP. I woke up to the scream still lodged in my throat. I think I might have made some strangled noises out loud. It was so real.

I woke up with a heart pounding to total darkness. Darkness I had never experienced before. I could not even see my hand in front of my face. I was shaking and shivering. Then I checked my watch – it was 3+am.

The light had automatically turned off in preparation of the morning hours.


I lay on my pallet, still as a bat and trying to figure if it was a dream or if it was real. I took light shallow breaths to listen to the stillness. I heard snoring all about me but I could not relax. My dull sense of hearing was sharpened and I tried to listen for any abnormal sounds or if I could sense anyone near me. I tucked my jacket and headscarf tighter around myself.

It took me about 30 minutes for me to go back to sleep.

The next time I woke up was to sunlight streaming through the tent and the stirring of other humans.

All was well. IT WAS ONLY A DREAM.

Here’s the thing: solo travel is safe enough but solo travel with an overactive imagination is not the best mix. Actually, an overactive imagination is never a good thing.

August 15, 2017
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