Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Love Story

How lucky was I to have been chosen to get the angry camel. This is Al Foud. He had a mind of his own. Last week we were in the Sinai for two days and took a day tour. Here's how it went...ATV to the end of the lagoon, snorkeling, ATV to the desert, met our camels and rode to a Bedouin tent, climbed a mountain, rode the camels back to the ATV's and then ATV'd back to the resort.

Al Foud was not so bad after all, once he calmed down. We approached the camels from the ATV's and one of the boys who was in charge of the camels motioned for me to get on Al Foud.

This is how I met him, agitated.

I said to the guide, 'this one' and he said, 'yes, he's just mad'. I thought, why me? So many things flashed in and out of my mind at that moment. In camel language that only the camels and camel-boys know, a sound was made for Al Foud to kneel down and pick me up. Before I knew it I was up six feet off of the ground on Al Foud's back. I led by example...I heard two shrill sounds from my son and his friend; and I knew they had also mounted their camels. Luckily for me, I think, this was not my first experience riding a camel in the Sinai!

We began our journey. Now Al Foud was obviously the leader of the pack. The boy led me and Al Foud first up the path and the others followed. You really can't imagine how disconcerting it is when the boy lets go of the reigns and gives them to you. I gave the boy a hesitant smile as I grabbed them. So me and Al Foud were off. Not one person or thing was in front of us except the wide, open desert. I prayed that Al Foud knew where we were going. He didn't disappoint me.

Al Foud would stop along the way to pick up bamboo shoots and all sorts of odds and ends to munch on. His head sounded very hollow. The other camels would pause too to let Al Foud graze and if they didn't Al Foud would push his way through the camels who had begun to pass him. He didn't care that he was so close to the camels that I had to push people's legs out of the way so that we could pass and get to the front again. His leadership skills were remarkable.

A half an hour later we were at the Bedouin tent. We dismounted our camels and walked over for some refreshing hot and very sweetened tea. This is a standard when visiting Bedouin..and you DON'T turn it down - a grave insult. Al Foud sat down and took a rest. The other camels did too; one of them even laid flat out on his side.

After climbing the mountain (I didn't do this - there are some lines that I won't cross anymore - I just stayed with the Bedouin and drank tea), drinking yet more tea, buying jewelry (yes, buying jewelry, Bedouin appear from nowhere, put out a cloth and show their mother's handwork!), and resting under the tent we were ready to get back to the resort. What was funny was that our guide who had dirt biked up and met us was really just enjoying himself and wasn't taking the clue that we were ready to return to the resort.

Finally, I said in my broken Arabic, "Yalla, habibi!" Let's go dear! He took the not so subtle hint, threw back his remaining tea and took us over to the camels. The camels were still not so anxious to get back up again. I asked the boy what the name of my camel was. He said, "Al Foud." I didn't hear him well so I said, VERY LOUDLY, "Al Foud??"

At that moment Al Foud heard his name, jumped up to all fours and came right over to me. He had the look of luv in his eyes and I thought he was going to kiss me his camel lips got so close to mine. Everyone laughed. I didn't at first, really we had just met. The boy calmed Al Foud down again and I was able to mount him quickly and easily. Back to the ATV's and the turquoise blue water of the pool at the resort.

So was my afternoon with Al Foud. There will never be another camel in my life such as Al Foud.


Nan said...

Great story! I also loved seeing the photos from "paradise!"

Brother Richard said...

The only other Al Foud in your life is Brother Richard. Same looks different personality. Great shot.