I chose to listen to Married to a Bedouin on audible.com. The memoir of a New Zealand woman who married a Jordanian bedouin, I LOVED the story.
I expected an Arabic-speaking narrator, or at least correct Arabic pronunciation, but the words were so mispronounced that is was distracting to me (I speak Arabic). Having said that, I think having an Australian pronounce the Arabic was more realistic since Marguerite is a New Zealander who would’ve pronounced the words similarly.
Still, I loved Marguerite’s story of being in her early 20’s and traveling the Middle East. She ends up in Petra, Jordan, and ends up with a crush on Mohammed, a bedouin living in Petra. He liked her because a “European wife was considered a catch.” Her Arabic name became Fatema, and then, when her son was born, Umm Raami (mother of Raami).
The two married in no time, and Marguerite, born and raised in developed New Zealand, found herself settling in to her life with Mohammed in a cave.
What was most interesting was how Umm Raami settled into her life as the wife of an Arab. She learned Arabic, respected the customs, and settled in living in the wadi, or valley, including using donkeys, selling items to tourists, and climbing up the jabal, or mountain.
Umm Raami clearly appreciates Arab culture and bedouin life, and I LOVED how she showed the beauty of Arab culture, the hospitality, generosity, and the richness of their history. She slowly became a Muslim and adopted the Bedouin tribe’s way of life. In 1984, Queen Elizabeth even once visited her at her cave, and there was a broadcast of Umm Raami, Mohammed, and two of their children, and there was an article written about them called ‘The Kiwi and the Caveman.’
What struck me the most was how easily and well she settled into her new life. She came from a developed country (New Zealand), and chose to live in a cave with no running water, no electricity, and for a while, no shower (until Mohammed built one when her parents visited).
What struck me even more is Umm Raami and Mohammed’s love for each other. As wide and beautiful as Petra itself, their love graces each chapter, and though I never met Mohammed, I feel as if I know this loving, generous, and friendly man. I was saddened to learn he died in 2002. This is the ultimate love story: cave and dust and mountains, and they survived it all.