Monday, October 18, 2010

Camels: Not as cool as I thought

 I don't like camels.

I'm about two seconds away from spitting at you. Stupid human.

1. They're mean.
2. They spit.
3. I can't think of a third reason. Probably because hatred is usually justified by false information and ridiculous exaggeration. Meaning that I don't have any real reason to hate camels. I just do. I was trying to give you reasons so you would think "Ah, yes. That makes sense. I can see now why she hates camels." Now you just think I'm a bigoted, species-ist camel-hater. 

I wasn't always this way. 

In fact, I was once extremely excited about camels. When I was 11 my Dad took me on a llama pack trip. That should just about sum up my childhood experience. At any rate, during this particular father-daughter trip, I had a llama named Roger who was really cute and sweet and I somehow figured that all camels would be exactly like Roger the llama. Llamas=sort of remotely related to camels therefore one nice llama = all camels are nice. Look, logic really isn't my thing. I prefer to go blithely through life making all sorts of ridiculous assumptions about camels. 

Prior to living in the Middle East I had never actually been in the proximity of a camel. I might have seen one once at a zoo, but I can't be sure. I was charmed by the camels standing on the side of the road everywhere I went in the West Bank. In fact, I was surprised to see so many camels. Everywhere I looked there were little clusters of docile looking ungulates. It was like showing up in the jungle and going "OH MY GOD! YOU GUYS, LOOK AT THE MONKEYS. IN THE TREES! I TOTALLY THOUGHT THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL WAS JUST MAKING THAT SHIT UP! MY WHOLE UNIVERSE JUST EXPANDED."

That's how I felt about seeing camels everywhere in the desert. 

I could not wait to get on one. But I didn't want to have just any camel-riding experience so I snubbed the camels hanging out at the gas station waiting to take tourists on an exotic trek around the Shell station parking lot. If I was going to get on a camel, I wanted nothing less than a 2-day trek in the desert so that I could realistically pretend to be Lawrence of Arabia. If you go on a camel trek in the Middle East and DON'T pretend to be Lawrence of Arabia you are failing at life. Individuals who go to Petra and don't pretend to be Indiana Jones also fall under this category. 

After living in the West Bank for nearly 4 months, I finally got my chance. I made plans to head to Jordan with two friends to go on a two-day camel trek in Wadi Rum. My Australian friend had been on a camel trek before and she tried to warn me. But because she's an awesome Aussie with an "anything goes" attitude, she was willing to go ahead with it even though she knew the tortures that lay ahead (I may be slightly exaggerating in referring to a camel trek as torture, but only slightly). 

After a few days in Petra we made our way to Wadi Rum. 

I couldn't believe I was so close to realizing my long-awaited adventure. There just before my eyes stood three camels awaiting us. 

But....three camels. There were three of us and one guide. That equals four. But there were only three camels. I couldn't comprehend how the guide was going to keep up with me and my camel galloping across the desert. 

That question was answered within 30 seconds of getting on the camel. 

Camels don't gallop. 

Camels do not do anything that falls under the category of "moving quickly." 

A camel's gate is the definition of "plod." When I envisioned a camel trek I did not envision plodding through the desert for two days on a spitting ungulate (new favorite word) who is adorned not with a cushioned saddle, but with a piece of wood that looks like an upside down V placed on the camel's hump and has a few cushions lashed on for good measure. Saddle sores like you wouldn't believe. To make matters worse we were spread out on our camels so we couldn't actually pass the time by talking to one another. Our guide didn't speak any English. And there was no Wi-Fi so I couldn't obsessively update my Twitter to give everyone a play-by-play account of how bored I was. Also I think my camel was kind of slow on the uptake. I think camels are generally kind of slow on the uptake, but mine especially. I'm pretty sure they gave me the "special" camel. I'm still trying not to take that personally.

After what seemed like an eternity we reached our Bedouin-style campground for the night. 

It was spectacular. We sat in silence on red rocks watching the sun set and the stars rise. After dinner we spent hours sitting around a campfire staring up at the kind of night sky you can only see in the desert. 

And the camels? 

They were tethered off in the distance...which is how I've come to appreciate camels. Tethered. At a distance. 


RyRo said...


Nikki Hodgson said...

You better like it! That post was dedicated to you. I mean....[insert something nice] hahaha, smw.

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