Category Archives: Driving

It’s Camelicious!

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TBG always sees camels on the way to work and is telling me about them –  I couldn’t understand why, till he casually mentioned “oh, well, there’s a camel dairy just off the road”.  What??  Why have we not been there yet??  So, here we go!

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Driving up to the entrance of the facility.  I wanted to take photos of the actual road we were on, but there was a group of men sitting alongside the road in the shade, eating and drinking.  It’s not acceptable to take someone’s photo here unless you ask first, so I didn’t get that shot.

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Yup, It’s Camelicious!  Told you.   The official name of this dairy is The Emirates Industry for Camel Milk & Products (EICMP).  Now, just for fun, go right ahead and start singing in your head the song “Fergalicious” by Fergie….. “So delicious (It’s hot, hot) So delicious (I put them boys on rock, rock) So delicious (They want a taste of what I got) I’m Fergalicious (T-t-tasty, tasty)”  OK, anyway, now that that’s stuck in your brain read on!

From this facility, over  3000 camels produce the nutritious milk which the on-site factory processes into multiple products- milk, flavored milk, chocolates and “camelchinos” – frothy coffee beverages.

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This camel dairy farm is owned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, and is one of only two in the UAE and is the largest in the world.  The herds are still under development, with western-style herd tracking, breeding and artificial insemination methods underway, but the Camelicious milk has been on supermarket shelves in the UAE for years.  The UK has just issued the approval for Camelicious milk to be exported there and will be on UK supermarket shelves shortly.  Now, as I understand it, wild camel milk has a very “distinct” flavor as the animals graze on desert brush, and this taste is generally considered undesirable for the masses.  Camelicious camels are “camels of a different kind” though.  They are fed imported alfalfa hay from New Zealand as well as carrots and dates.  This combination sweetens the milk and makes it more consistent and palatable.

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One thing I’ve learned about this facility is that they have a genuine concern for these tempermental critters.  They don’t want them turned into “humped milking machines”.  See, camels do not like to have their schedule disrupted, they normally need their calves present to produce milk, and they’re used to walking  many miles daily.  In order to keep the herds happy and milky, the facility has made adjustments – scheduling is precise, a walking track has been added and the camels spend daily time with their calves.  Happy camels, Camelicious milk!

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I asked TBG why this camel had a red rope between his front feet and he said it was a hobble of sorts.  I asked why all the rest of the camels didn’t have one, and he said “That one must be the leader.  Camels are social critters, they’ll follow one lead camel anywhere, but they like to stay huddled together.  Their body temperatures are lower than the outside temps, so huddling feels cooler to them.”

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This is the “cattle guard” things that I’m used to seeing in the US over roadways at fenceline – though those are made of pipes, and much closer together.  These must be heavier, and further apart for the camels’ bigger feet.

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Oh, and ever wonder how they transport camels from place to place??  LOL… here ya go!!

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“CarWash, sir?”

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There are carwash guys in mall parking lots.  And parking garages.  They wear uniforms, carry receipt books pre printed and are very efficient.

They’re all over, they push little carts with I’m not sure what inside them, but lemme tell you, they do a bang-up job of washing your car while you’re shopping!  Cheap too, around $6-8 USD if my conversions are right, and they do it year round!

Communicating with them can be an issue, though.  They seem to recognize a few phrases in English – “How much?” they can answer, and if you hold up fingers “How long?” they can answer.  Outside of that, you’ll hear “yes yes yes” which seems to be the standard service answer.  And it does not necessarily mean “yes” at all.

An SUV costs approximately AED25 ($8) and a sedan AED20 ($6) plus tip.

But it certainly is nice to get out of a dusty, dirty car in the parking garage, and when you return to it (not always as easy as it sounds, BTW!  These parking garages are HUGE, multi-story, multiple entrances to the malls, on multiple levels!) and return to something sparkling and shiny clean.  For cheap.

Where did you go, Dubai??

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Dubai has officially disappeared.  Really.  I woke early this morning and decided to come downstairs and get the coffee started…… while waiting on the dripping thing (miss my Bunn coffeemaker!!) I peeked outside, and holy COW is it foggy in Dubai!!  I snapped this at 7 am local time, and you still cannot see past my back gate – looks like I’ve found the end of the world.  There’s tons of trees and buildings and a lake past that gate, but you can’t see any of it for the fog. Kinda like nothing else exists.

It seems to be a winter thing here, and the wrecks in the fog are legendary.  Multiple car-pileups were common, as inexperienced drivers continued to drive in the fog as they have in clear weather.  Some people here will turn on their 4-way flashers to drive in fog, which is really confusing – westerners think of that as a stopped vehicle in distress.

Thankfully, over the past few foggy days, there have been few crashes, and we’ll hope it continues.  But from where I look, it sure looks like Dubai has disappeared!

I saw Camels!

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I know, to some of you, it’s like “well, honey, after all, you *are* in the Middle East, what were you expecting, rhinos???” Smartbutts. But when I did see a camel, on the SIDE OF THE DANG ROAD, Y’ALL – I squealed. TBG thought something was wrong and his head snapped around to see what the heck I was all “Honey! Honey! Look! Look! Did you see them? Oh Honey, can we go back? Baby TURN AROUND! I saw some camels!!” about.  On the side of the busy road, behind the fence, there were about half-dozen or so camels.

I swear to you the man rolled his eyes. I just felt him do it behind his sunglasses. But, he went to the next roundabout (holymotherofallthingsgood) and turned around to go back and let me see the camels.

Now, to some people, seeing wild animals may not be a big deal. But to me? To us? Things happen….like when we were on a motorcycle in the middle of nowhere, maybe Colorado or Wyoming, no houses, fences, lights, just a road and cattle crossing pipes over the road. We topped over a hill and TBG suddenly cut the engine off. We were coasting. I thought he was playing till he turned his head and said “Look ahead.” And there they were. A mother horse and her baby. A WILD HORSE and her baby. As we coasted to a stop at the bottom of the hill, it was just a few feet from us and had stretched his neck out towards us, curious. His fur was all long and tangled with sticks and mud and twigs….. dusty little baby horse. He wasn’t afraid, just wondered what kind of horses we were, I suppose.

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But his mama, wild or not, was having no part of it. She made a “Mama Noise”….. you know the one. You stop doing whatever it is you’re doing in case any part of it was wrong…. And he headed back over towards her, skittery hooves clicking on the road.

Or in Alaska/Canada, dead of Winter, between Christmas and New Years, we were in the Bronco, driving from Alabama to our new duty station in Fairbanks, Alaska. Dark as can be, hadn’t seen another sign of life or cars or lights for about an hour or so driving. The headlights were struggling to cut through the darkness and ice fog settling in, and we still had hours to drive before a place to stay. Over a hill, down the hill, around a curve, and there – off to the side of the road, movement ahead. TBG skidded to a stop, not sure what we were seeing, maybe a big bear or something?

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Freekin caribou. Talk about a mismatched bit of critter, I swear it was put together by a committee somewhere using leftover parts. Kinda moose-y, kinda cow-y, bits of deerishness about it too….. funny. But they’re also about the size of a small car so you don’t wanna hit them – and this one was in no big hurry to cross the road, just meandered to the middle and stood there.

Understand “road” is a relative term…. It was hard-packed snow, smooth as glass and just as slick.

After we’d sat there for about a full minute, wondering, “OK – so how do you move a caribou?” we saw the reason…. Two young caribou came from the same side of the road, crossed beyond the adult, and made their way quickly to the other side of the road. Ooohhhh…… OK. We got it now. Caribou road guard. Cool. Neither one of us thought to grab a camera.

So when we see wild critters, it’s something that we’ve always liked, something special for us, always a surprise, it’s an omen of good luck. And I know that things are like they should be.

OK, – Back to the camels.

These are some odd-looking critters, you know? But they’re oddly friendly-faced, reminding me of a giraffe’s head and face, except for the horse lips. And TBG had turned around and pulled off the side of the road so I could take these photos…. Now mind you, he did *NOT* unlock the freekin child-safety door lock dealies, so I couldn’t get out and get any closer, but I was able to put the window down and snap a few shots…. Are these not just the coolest???
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Don’t hang stuff out the back

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ImagePeople here don’t hang stuff out of the back of a truck.  For example, carrying some 16′ long pieces of lumber?  Hang them out the back of the bed of the truck in the US, but maybe put a red rag or flag on them for safety, right?  Not so here.  We lean stuff over the CAB of the trucks here…. keeping the peeps behind you safe from accidentally running into the long stuff.  Which they certainly would do, having observed their driving habits…….  Just another of the odd things that I’ve noticed here in Dubai – not bad, actually, I really like this idea.  Just different from the US, that’s all.

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