by JULIE-ANN SPENCE
The group from Northern Ireland who took part in the Marie Curie trek.
Arnold Wylie during his trek in the Jordanian desert
LOCAL man Arnold Wylie has just returned from a once in a lifetime adventure - trekking trough the Jordanian desert to raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Arnold and his brother Lawrence decided to raise money for the charity after their father died of leukaemia, just nine months after Arnold himself had been diagnosed with lymphoma in 2002.
"It's not often you get to do something enjoyable and worthwhile at the same time but this month I did," explained Arnold. "On Saturday November 6 at 4.30am my brother Lawrence and I arrived at George Best City Airport at the start of a trip to Petra in southern Jordan.
"It had all seemed very 'do-able' when we had signed up for this Marie Curie fundraising challenge in May 2009. Yet somehow at this unearthly hour of the morning, there was an element of doubt creeping in. Perhaps it had to do with the many hours clambering round in the Mournes over the last 18 months in training for this day, or maybe it was as a result of the disappointment when the trip had to be postponed due to the misbehaving of a certain Icelandic volcano back in April.
"However the day was now here and along with 25 other intrepid souls from Northern Ireland we eventually arrived in Petra around midnight.
"We woke to a beautiful morning and by 9am were on our way into the ancient city of Petra. Wandering down the Siq, the long entrance canyon into Petra, it's easy to see why the city lay undiscovered until 1812.
"It wasn't long before the towering façade of The Treasury poked through the end of the Siq. This ancient first century AD tomb has been the setting for Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade and more recently Transformers 2. Leaving the Treasury we explored the rest of the city, winding our way to the western end by mid day.
' From there it was out into the desert for the next two days. 40kms trekking through sand and rocky desert in temperatures of around 35°C by day falling to 5°C by night. This part of the Jordanian desert is more like the Mournes with sand than the Sahara. The terrain is very rocky and takes some navigating. In places its even quite dangerous.
Arnold is delighted that the group managed to raise almost £90,000 for the charity and said he would not hesitate to do it all again.
"I'd like to thank everyone who supported my brother and I. Between us we have raised almost £12,000 of the total but I know that for those who benefit from the phenomenal work of Marie Curie Cancer Care, the value of having our local hospice can't be measured in just money."