17 November 2011

Ride, Camel, Ride

There are two things I really hate: heights and riding on animals.

The way see it, if God had wanted us to be up high, on Day 8 He would have created skyscrapers.  And if He intended for humans to ride on animals, He would have created them with saddles on their backs.

But He didn't.

Early Sunday morning, my mom and I took our pillows (no, not the ones we sleep on!!) and made our way to the airstrip where we we joined five friends to wait for the camels to show.

In Niger, the camel is a normal part of life.  No matter where you go, you will find people transporting heavy loads on the back of their camel . . . even the middle of traffic in the capital city!  And word on the street is that up in the desert they race them like horses.

I've been here nine months now, and had managed to avoid the only tourist-trap activity we can offer, the camel ride.

I think I've been offered at least once every six weeks to go, and always had the easy excuse of 'I'm going to wait until my mom comes' . . . but, like going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, when Momma actually shows up, I've got no more easy out!

We were seven, and the one-armed herder only brought five camels . . . one girl backed out immediately, and I quickly offered to go 'another' time . . . but the one-armed herder wasn't about to lose another paying customer.  Momma and I could ride tandem.

Now, let me emphasize again . . . I HATE HEIGHTS!!  And I HATE RIDING ON ANIMALS!!  What the heck was I thinking climbing on the top of a camel's hump??

Getting our lean-back-lean-forward-cause-the-camel's-got-eight-knees
The camel was laying peacefully on the ground as we climbed aboard.  With my mom in the front, I felt like an African baby tied to her back.  It could just be that I was bear-hugging her like a seatbelt as white-knucked-hands were gripping the harness . . . and the camel wasn't even standing yet!

The one-armed herder (he's only got one arm now because one of his camels bit him . . . yeah, and you're laughing at me for not wanting to go for a ride!!) gave us instructions: When the camel first stands, you will need to lean back, then when he stands all the way up, you will lean forward.  We practiced.

What the one-armed herder didn't tell us, was that as soon as we had practiced once, the camel would stand.

Needless to say, we were caught a little off guard!

The last time I smiled before it was all over.
I spent the next hour trying not to fall off, laughing in sheer terror, and being told by my mother that I'm a complete pansy.

Best part of the whole thing:  I had a good excuse to wear jeans.


Linda said...


And I so agree with you:  "If God had wanted us to be up high, on Day 8 He would have created skyscrapers. And if He intended for humans to ride on animals, He would have created them with saddles on their backs. But He didn't."

Bless you for being a good sport!


Ginny said...


Gloria Polizzi said...

How funny is that.  you and your mom look great. just like you belong

Bradley and Lauren Washer said...

Love this post!  I remember the first time I got on a camel I was terrified as well!  They are some of the tallest, weirdest creatures, but have gorgeous eyelashes.  Love the faces of you and your mom and I can hear you both laughing :)  

Rebecca Vincent said...

Oh. So. Funny. Your writing is wonderfully clever and always touching (whether funny or otherwise), but that picture with you and your mom is, indeed, priceless. A picture may be worth a thousand words in this case. Love this post! Thanks for sharing your adventures and many gifts - hope you have a good time with your mom.

Joyce Nielsen said...

What a riot! It looks very scary. Do many people (tourists) fall off?

Mary Ann said...

You gals are amazing!!!  Very brave, and now you know you've done it, and don't need to think about it again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Was it really scary the whole time?  How long were you on the camel?  Doesn't look like there is much to hold on to.   Love, Mary Ann

Chcpe said...

In America you would be called "biker chicks"...but in Niger..."camel jockeys". In French I believe the translation is "two babes on a bump". Great pictures. C

Ryniakg said...

I wish I could have been there just to watch the both of you.  So glad you are having a great time together.  These are experiences neither of you will ever forget.

Mike D said...


Seth Montgomery said...

I remember once getting the camel guide to get my camel to gallop... it was only slightly more awesome than your photos. Ahh... good times.

Deb. said...

OH MY GOODNESS!!! I would have wet my pants out of sheer terror!! (It's a wonder I didn't while the thing was just walking!)

Deb. said...

HA HA HA!!! Yes, they do have GREAT eyelashes!!! :)

Deb. said...

Thanks Rebecca!

Deb. said...

Joyce, it only takes one . . . but come to think, my mom is the only tourist around these parts!! :)

Deb. said...

That's right, Mary Ann, NEVER AGAIN!!! :)

I was terrified the whole time . . . but my once-was-a-cop mother was fine as soon as the camel was all the way up. And no, there wasn't much to hold on to.

Deb. said...

You're welcome to come with the next time Robin comes!!!!

Deb. said...

Mike, who would have ever thought, all those years ago, that this would be the story I'm telling!!