Tag Archives: camels

I did it! I rode a camel!

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While we were at Bab Al Shams resort, one of the activities available there was the opportunity to ride a camel – oh my goodness, I was eager and I was nervous and I was excited and I was happy.  OK, so…..  here we go.

After we’d had a bite at one of the Bab Al Shams’ restaurants, we walked around a bit exploring, looking at all that the resort had to offer…. Archery, horseback riding, miniature golf, swimming pools that were to die for gorgeous.  Honestly,  some were the “infinity” pools that just looked like they kept going on and on into the desert, some had big water features in them, some were shallow for the kiddies, and some swam right up to the bars.

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Lots of neat shady places to sit and just enjoy the peacefulness of the place, to actually relax and begin to people-watch.  Until I noticed, just past the pools, on the other side of a small ridge, where the resort meets the desert….

CAMELS.  More importantly, PEOPLE and CAMELS.  Oh. My. Goodness.  I pointed it out to TBG and he said “I suppose that’s where we’re headed, right?”.   Silly man.

I walked over the edge of the property, and down the little rise, and there were two camels, with the saddle-things already on them, with ropes, and a few people around them taking pictures.  I stood there for a few minutes, just sort of soaking in the idea that there was the desert, and here were the camels, and here I was.  Goosebumps.

A young woman was standing close to one of the camels, and I realized that she was about to go on a camel ride – I was watching closely.  The camel was kneeling down in the sand with his feet all scrunched up under him about as flat as I suppose a camel can get.

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Still, that hump-back was pretty high up there, I was wondering how she was gonna do it.  Well, you climb.  Just throw your leg up there as high as you can get it, grab the saddle handle thing, and pull/push yourself up.  Definitely not for the less-than-agile.  I was thinking it was gonna take a crane to get me up there and my mouth started feeling a little bit dry……..

Then, the camel started to stand up.  Hind legs first.  REALLY awkward looking, and rough from the expression on the woman’s face as she leaned really far backwards.  Then he got to his front knees.  (Do camels *have* back knees??)  The woman was rocking forwards now, and looked like she was juuuuust about to fall off!  Then, it all sort of leveled out and I thought “she did it!”.  And the handler took off with her.

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Nearby, I noticed an Asian woman was desperately trying to take a photo of her oh-so-cutely dressed little daughter petting a camel, and that little girl was having no part of it.  She was intrigued, but scared.  I remembered a trick that one of the Disney character handlers taught me about how to get a great shot of a scared child with a character….thought I’d try it.

I walked up to the camel, behind the little girl, and started petting it.  She turned around, looked at me, I smiled and said “he’s really nice to pet, would you like to touch him??”  She turned around and looked at her mother, who said “it’s OK!”  And the little girl moved in closer, put out her hand close to mine and touched his fur.  At that time, she started to turn back around and look at her mother giggling, I moved out of the photo, and her mother got a perfect photo of just her daughter touching a camel!  The look of surprise and triumph on that little girl’s face was priceless.

The gent handling one of the camels looked at me and asked “Would you care to ride?”  Oh boy – this is my moment of truth – nerves or courage????

“Sure!”  And he gestured for me to get on the camel.  I had to throw my leg up around shoulder-high to get it over the top of the camel and saddle and pulled/pushed myself on… definitely not one of my more graceful moments.  Thank goodness TBG didn’t get a photo.  And then….. his hind legs went up!  Oh my!!

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I swear I was leaning back as far as I thought I could without falling off.  When my Mama saw this photo, she said “Looked a little bit white-knuckled there, weren’t you, girl?”  Boy, was I!  And, the gent handling the camel was making clicking noises at the camel and pulling on the rope, trying to get it to continue standing up.  Of course it was being stubborn, and here we were…. Half-way up.

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Suddenly, up on its knees!  Now I’m leaning waaaaay forward, hoping to not topple off over the neck of this big critter, hanging on for dear life.  Wow, that other gal’s experience sure looked a whole lot smoother, easier and faster than this!  Oh well, it’s not so bad.

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Then, I realized something.  We weren’t STANDING yet.  How did I realize this?  There was this sudden lurching, this weird, awkward staggering kind of upward movement, and then suddenly, we were moving out towards the desert – away from the resort.  The camel was being led by the handler, I was hanging on for dear life thinking calming thoughts “People have done this before.  Probably small children.  Grab the experience”.   Don’t I look all calm and cool and collected there??  Sheesh.

OK, panicky feelings are over, we’re on a camel, headed out into the desert for a walkabout, and I realize that the handler is speaking.  Something about did I want to know more about the camel?  I said “Certainly!”  in my best non-squeaky-nervous voice.  It was about 10 years old and can walk for miles and miles and miles is about all I can remember, because I’d realized something. I was pretty much doing the “splits” on top of this critter.  It was wide, really wide.  And not well-padded.  So to distract myself and continue on this rolling-gaited trip, I asked the handler if he enjoyed working with camels?  He smiled a crooked smile and said “Yes, Madame, they are very gentle creatures”.  I asked if he’d been here in Dubai long and he answered a year and a half.  I asked if he had family here, he snapped his head around and looked at me with almost a piercing look, and said “No Madame, no family here, they are all back in Egypt”.

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As I was digesting this information, we began the turn to make a journey back to the resort.  I thought we’d been gone about an hour…. It was no where close to that.  But it was surely long enough for me to realize that I’d probably want one of those nice comfy saddle things like on horses….. with stirrups and a seat.

Now, headed back, I’m feeling all confident like I’m some expert camel-rider or something… I even reached down (loosening my death-grip hold on that handle thing) to actually *pet* that camel.  Don’t I look relaxed and like I’m not sitting on one of the tallest mammals on the planet??  Sitting on something higher than TBG’s head??

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This was TBG’s chuckle for the day, I’m sure….. I was thinking “what the heck??” when I found it on my camera,  but then, he has a truly warped sense of humor, you know…… go ahead and roll your eyes in advance……

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I’m glad I got the opportunity to practice my camel-riding skills though.  Just in case I ever find myself in the midst of making a camel caravan journey, you know.  Hey, it could happen!

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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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