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Ending

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Friday, 8th April:  Today we had a free day. Two-thirds of the group opted to take a trip to Wadi Rum. Five of us went to the Treasury to watch the sun rise over Petra. It was a lovely start to the day. The place was almost deserted, the world waking up. We ate chocolate croissants and drank freshly squeezed orange juice, sitting among the ancient ruins in the warm sun. Our group split again: two of us went to look around the shops and then took a taxi to Little Petra as we'd missed it the day before. I'm glad we went. It was only about thirty minutes away and the views from the taxi were spectacular. The place was almost deserted and it was lovely to wander around, marvelling at the skill in creating these buildings and how they'd survived for all this time. That evening, our last one in Jordan, we were to have a celebration dinner. We all got dressed up and took a coach to a restaurant high above Wadi Musa. We looked down at the lights in the town below, twinkling gold an

Petra

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Thursday, 7th April: Everyone was awake and up before Theo came round with his good morning call. Today we were to reach our goal. It wasn't far to go: around two hours of walking before we reached the back of Petra. (We were starting at the end at the Monastery and walking through the ancient city to the start at Wadi Musa where our hotel was located.)  We had a later start than usual and reached the beginning of the pilgrimage to the Monastery in what seemed to be no time at all. Ha! Look how I was getting used to this! And the policeman joined us again - it's funny how he missed out the really hard bits! And lucky we didn't come across any bandits! The approach to the Monastery isn't a gentle stroll, but a negotiation of 800 steps! Some flights rise up, and others down - each has its own challenge. They are uneven and it was hot. I leaned on my walking poles to take the weight off my toe. I'd got my soft hiking trainers on as my boots were too rigid and it felt

A cultural day

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Wednesday, 6th April: I slept heavily. There were no sand storms, braying donkeys or dogs. But when I woke in the morning and moved to get up, the little toe on my right foot made me say 'ouch!'. Yes, there was a blister (and, to be honest, I'm not surprised) but the toe was twice the size it should have been, bright red, and tender to touch. I took paracetamol and prayed. The swelling didn't go down, although the pain eased a little. I managed to get my soft hiking trainers on but I was hobbling. Today was to be a gentler walk of just six hours, ending in Little Petra. But there was no way I could trek.  I was disappointed.   Theo asked the group who wanted to miss the day's trekking after the exhausting time we'd had over the last couple of days. Nearly half the group opted to stay back. Most would be taken by truck to meet the group at lunch and then walk the last couple of hours into Little Petra. Four of us were unable to do that so we'd have to miss i

The longest day

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Tuesday, 5th April: Sleep last night was fleeting. Thankfully I got to sleep at 9pm, but I was woken two hours later by a howling gale. The tent listed from side to side, dust found its way in, leaving a fine layer of sand over everything. The noise was intense. The sides of the tent billowed in and out like it was breathing. Some of us were in two-man tents, but many of us in singles. I was one of those and it was terrifying not knowing what was going on outside, how everyone else was coping. There was no way of communicating with my fellow trekkers. No phone signal. The wind noise deafening. It slowed down, just the odd puff and I drifted back into fitful sleep only to be awoken again. It felt as if the wind had gathered itself, sucked in all the air it could and then blew hard, trying to shake us free. Fear, darkness and lack of sleep played tricks on my mind. Was I the only one this was happening to? Was I being punished for not finishing yesterday's walk? I'd let Tim down

A bruised elbow

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Monday, 4th April: We were woken in the early hours by barking and howling. Some of us thought they were dogs, others thought they were wolves. It was disturbing. The sounds grew close, and the darkness combined with the lack of sleep made the fear almost suffocating. I swallowed it down. This was an organised trek and we had experienced guides who knew what to do. The dogs or wolves passed by, their calling now fading and I drifted back to sleep, only to be woken minutes later by what sounded like a huge unoiled engine. It was a donkey. And we would grow to learn that this donkey got excited whenever it met other donkeys, its enthusiasm erupting with an ee-aw that drowned out anything else. It's exuberance couldn't help but make you smile..... except at three o'clock in the morning! Theo called us to wake up just before sunrise and bleary-eyed I heard the sounds of zips as we all emerged from our tents. Breakfast was a glorious affair of breads, boiled eggs, fava beans, y

Trekking days: the start

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Saturday, 2nd April and Sunday, 3rd April: I awoke early, apprehension gone. There was no time now for 'what-ifs' or for bailing out. T-Day was here, and I was on my way. The drive to Heathrow was smooth and I met a group of other early birds at Costa. We bonded from the start, nerves covered by laughter and excitement. The plane journey was only five hours, but Jordan is two hours ahead of UK time, so we arrived a little after midnight. Queen Alia International Airport was quiet and small. We had a 'fixer' who moved us along, took our passports to be verified and then on to the coach. The air was warm and still. We met Theo, our guide who works for Dream Challenges . He is Dutch but has lived in Jordan since the nineties and he was the man who would lead us, push us on, and wake us in the morning. He was the man we depended on to get us through. Although at that time, we didn't realise how much we would rely on him, how much we had to trust him. The coach drive wa

Trekking eve

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This time tomorrow I'll be on the plane, jetting off to Amman. I'll have met my fellow trekkers (although I feel I know so many of them because of our Facebook and WhatsApp groups). I'm sure that worries will be overshadowed by excitement. But ultimately, this trek is to raise money for the cancer charity of our choice. Each participant will have their own reason for taking on the trek. Each person will have someone close to their heart driving them to do this. I am no different. You all know why I'm here. And I'm feeling wobbly. Tearful. On Tuesday it was three years since Tim passed away. Tom Parker of The  Wanted  passed away on Wednesday; he was just thirty-three years old. This month is brain cancer awareness month. I am proud to have raised so much money for The Brain Tumour Charity . But most of all, I am proud of all of you who have given up your hard earned cash and put your faith in me. During the training, faith in myself has wavered, but yours hasn't