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How to be cool, the Bir Madhkur Project

August 22, 2013

2nd post in a series



Achieving a significant level of coolness means that when someone mentions their name, it invokes a smile and a heartfelt remark like they are GREAT.   Musa, one of the Bedouin workers on our archeological survey, achieves rock star cool status effortlessly, in the same way we breathe  air.   Why, how, I cannot be certain, but here are some of the facts of which I am certain about Musa:

  1. He has a warm smile
  2. He breaks out into song for no reason
  3. He is a goat herder
  4. He can kill a poisonous viper with the grace of a cat
  5. He lives in a tent in the desert with his wife and two kids
  6. He makes some mean tea
  7. He hikes in sandals faster than any American in $130 Vasques.
  8. He makes good bread … and shares it
  9. He can find the best shady spot anytime, anywhere
  10. He inspired the Bir Madhkur 2012 hit song, “You got to move like Musa”

Musa's superior hiking gear vs ours

Musa’s superior hiking gear vs ours

Making Bedouin Tea or Chai

Making Bedouin Tea or Chai

Musa showing dead viper

Musa showing dead viper

I think the best thing is Musa would find this blog post, puzzlingly, being friendly and sharing is a Bedouin ethic.  Musa is so authentic that he would not even think-to-think about not being himself as he is.   This is a rare thing to find in America, but not in the village of Bir Madhkur.

Pretty cool, yes, but even more meaningful to a historian is that Musa knows the desert and its history. He is often our liaison between past and present.  One day, Andrew, our team leader and I stood somewhere in the desert pondering an odd rock structure.   I could see Andrew’s PhD brain calculating, while I squinted and furrowed my brow.   Is this Roman?  Is this Nabatean?  Is this a creation of random bored children?  Into our befuddlement, Musa enters with an easy light walk, smiles and sits down crossed legged on the strange rocks more comfortable than any yogi.   He begins to make hand gestures, pantomiming the scene of a Bedouin cooking over a stove that would have existed in the past.   Naturally we both want to join.  Andrew sits down and tries out the “chair”, like a Bedouin might have last week or 300 years ago.   I insist that we do special 3D imagery of the chair/cook area to document the moment.   Musa inspired us without effort, he was just sharing and being himself, which is why I think, he is really cool.

To see more images for Jordan go to

Musa helping wrap a Keffiyeh

Musa helping wrap a Keffiyeh


One Comment leave one →
  1. KEH permalink
    August 22, 2013 11:05 am

    how cool!

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