When you Google “adventure travel” images of thin, white, able-bodied people pop up.
They are hiking trails, setting sail, rock climbing, and mountain biking. You don’t see many fat, black women with bold hair and bright personalities in ads for adventure travel. Which made me think that adventure travel just wasn’t my jam.
Until I went on the Jordan Discovery tour with Intrepid Travel.
As I walked five miles in the dry Jordanian desert, I wondered how many other fat women have taken on this challenge? How many people who look like me have ever hiked behind Little Petra to the Monastery? I’m sure there have been plenty. But there is little to no representation of fat bodies being active in a happy way. In a way that doesn’t celebrate movement solely for weight loss purposes. Because, newsflash – not all fat people want to lose weight.
We live our lives in so many different types of bodies. Young bodies, old bodies, fat bodies, fit bodies, able bodies, disabled bodies. Unless there is representation, we’re always left wondering, is that for me? I’m a California girl who loves the beach. So, on vacation you can generally find me lounging on an island in a bikini. Taking a trip to the Middle East was the first step out of my comfort zone.
Signing up for a group adventure tour as solo traveler was a leap of faith. I couldn’t wait to visit a new country but was nervcited (nervous + excited) about the social dynamics of group travel. Was I gonna get along with everyone? Who would be my roommate? I was even more anxious to see if I could keep up with the group for the longer hikes. I didn’t want to slow everyone down, but I also didn’t want to push myself too far.
On the first night we all went to dinner and I learned that I was the only American in the group. I also learned that we all shared a similar sarcastic humor. So, it was even. Then our Intrepid local leader Ibrahim told us that he was a magician and that’s when the magic began.
Our group bonded instantly, with food and music as the glue! We were different in too many ways to list, but we were all were open to trying new foods and listening to different music. We shared laughs and stories at every meal. And took turns playing the role of DJ on long drives, singing and dancing together the whole way. All of which helped us remain open and ready to learn, share, and grow from this experience together.
We started our stay in Wadi Rum with a delicious local lunch and tea in a Bedouin tent followed by a cartwheel contest in the desert. Then we checked into our private tents in a Bedouin Camp. One of my favorite memories is getting to meet a Bedouin Sheikh and ask him questions about community building.
The night before the Little Petra hike I couldn’t sleep. I knew I had to rest but my mind was racing. We set off before sunrise the next morning to have breakfast with a female goat herder from the Bedouin Tribe and her family. Learning more about the Bedouin community and sharing a meal helped put my mind at ease. I was able to gain some perspective and calm my nerves a bit.
Before we began the hike I spoke with Ibrahim and told him why I was nervous. I explained how I didn’t want to push myself too far in an effort to keep up. I let him know that I would ask for anything I needed, water, a break, some elusive shade.
I also accepted his offer to have a car pick me up after the five-mile hike to the Monastery, instead of walking the additional two plus hours to the Treasury.
I remember wanting to quit. I remember wanting to cry. I remember Ibrahim turning on some music and we all started singing along.
Soon after, I was looking at the Monastery.
As the only fat person in an active environment sometimes you feel like you have to mention how often you exercise or your most adventurous feat (think woman versus wild). You feel like you have to step into the “Good Fattie” role. Because the only “acceptable” fat person is one who is actively trying to lose weight. So it can be difficult to admit your limitations because of the fear of judgement. But fat people aren’t the only ones with physical limitations.
Someone with arthritis, or a recent surgery would definitely need to reconsider doing the longer Petra hike. People with mobility limitations might be able to access the trail from the entrance to the Treasury with relative ease. From there they could hire a horse and carriage to the Treasury.
One of my favorite travel quotes is “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” The Jordan Discovery tour enriched my entire year. I learned so many things about history and science. I fell in love with a new culture. I became a better version of myself.
I’m a stronger, more confident person because I pushed myself to try something I was afraid to do. And I didn’t buckle under the pressure to prove myself. I advocated for myself when needed and pushed through when I had to.
Most importantly, I didn’t let fear win and in doing so I learned that adventure travel can be for every body.
Travel is for every body and everybody. Join us on an adventure and check out Intrepid Travel’s trips in 120+ countries.
(All images taken of the Jordan Discovery tour that Annette ventured on.)