While soldiers of many nations face danger and hardship in the deserts of Iraq, Israel and Palestine, a party of adventurers from Britain have each paid 250 pounds ($US507) to enjoy a luxurious "desert walk" in neighboring Jordan.
"I have had a few text messages saying that all is well apart from the gruelling temperatures, the swimming in the Dead Sea, having your dinner cooked for you every night and sleeping out under the stars in a desert. What a hard life it is!" stay-at-home husband Simon Elmont scoffs in his family blog.
"Liz is hoping to get back to Guernsey on Sunday evening and back home on Monday morning in time to make my lunch."
Liz Elmont, 29-year-old mother of two young children, had responded to a fund-raising appeal by the British charity Dogs for the Disabled, which required every Desert Walker to raise at least 2500 pounds ($US5075) in sponsorships.
"This is a truly spectacular five-day trek through the Arabian desert in Jordan starting at the Dead Sea – the lowest point on earth – and finishing in the ancient rock city of Petra," the organizers said on the official website http://www.dogsforthedisabled.org/Supportus/OverseasChallenges.htm
"Your personal challenge is to raise funds to train puppies for Dogs for the Disabled – offering confidence, companionship and independence to disabled people across the UK.
"Sleep under the stars each night as we trek with our Bedouin guides through areas of amazing solitude and great beauty.
"Our route takes us from the bottom of valleys to the top of mountains over terrain that is exciting and challenging. The shared experience of this very special hike is guaranteed to be full of friendship and fun as well as a wonderful way to raise money to give disabled people increased independence and companionship."
Here are a few edited extracts from the Elmont blog, recounting Liz's adventures:
Friday, March 9. So this is it! I'm off to Jordan this weekend! I'm flying out of Guernsey tomorrow and should be back in about ten days time all being well. If I manage to get any info through to Simon I'm sure he'll update the blog while I'm away. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
Sunday, March 9. I'm stuck in Heathrow Airport waiting to meet up with all the others travelling to Jordan for the Desert Walk. I successfully managed to get here without getting lost once - nothing short of a miracle for me! Hopefully that's a good omen for the rest of the trip.
Thursday, March 13. ...and the headlines tonight:
BONG - Liz got up the mountainsBONG - She doesn’t know what shes been eating for the last few days but is glad she hasn't seen the insides of the catering tent!BONG - she should reach journey's end tomorrow at PetraLiz has inadvertently strayed into a mobile phone area so managed a quick call home earlier this evening to relay the story so far.
Dodging rockets fired from Israeli gunships and whilst trying to pick out the camel meat from her dinner she informed me that all was well apart from a very sore toe and the obligatory dodgy knee.
The Desert Walk was scheduled to be held from March 9 to 16, so it may have ended by the time this story is published. For a last-minute account, click on Liz's fascinating blog http://elmontsonline.blogspot.com/
Simon's Own Efforts
Simon Elmont isn't always a stay-at-home childminder. He took part in The 2005 Polar Race from Resolute Bay in Nanavut (the former North West Territories) to the Magnetic North Pole. Pulling 70kg sledges, competing teams walked or skied more than 400 miles in temperatures as low as -40 degrees centigrade.
The team of Simon Elmont and Steve Wright won third prize, completing the course in 14 days, 22 hours, 7 minutes.
""With all this time on my hands, it has been very easy to get into my own expedition planning mode - that'll teach you to leave me on my own for a few days," Simon wrote to Liz last week.
"I have an offer of a job in Baffin next year for a two week guiding trip followed in 2010 by Steve and me attempting to ski across Greenland, following the famous Nansen route.
"As always, a sponsor is required, so any corporate directors reading this please get in touch!"
This story was first published by the South Korean journal OhmyNewsInternational: http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?no=382084&rel_no=1