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“Married to a Bedouin” by Marguerite van Geldermalsen is the fascinating story of the author’slife among the native Bedouin of Petra, Jordan.
Wandering through the Middle East with her companion in the mid-70′s, Marguerite befriends Mohammad, her soon to be husband. She then goes on to chronicle their wedding, (complete with ammunition) and her assimilation into the unique Bedouin culture. At the time, the Bedouin of Petra lived in the thousands of caves that still dot the landscape, and the author covers everyday life in the caves right up until their eventual resettlement in the government village of Umm Sayhoon. The author also casts a keen eye to catch a snapshot of this unique culture on the verge of transformation. She also notes that not all the Bedouin were resistant to change; they were eager for most of the modern amenities that the West takes for granted. The book also recounts their adventures in Wadi Sabra and the openess of the easy going Bedouin. Working at the local clinic (the Bedouin are guaranteed free health care by the state), Marguerite shares in the life and times of the entire village, culminating in the birth of her children. I highly recommend “Married to a Bedouin” to anyone who has been to, or is contemplating going to Petra. It shows that in addition to the ancient cultures tourists pay to visit, there may be one there that is living, breathing, and equally valid. And as we learned, the Bedouin still take house guests!