Camel opportunities are paramount on most travels I undertake. The opps are occasionally written into the tours; most of them happen in between or instead of scheduled events, finagled by any persuasive means at hand including shameless begging or hissy fits at fascist tour leaders. Past camel times are still back in my BDM blog (just see the CAMELS label) but more recent adventures in Giza and Sinai and Petra are at your fingertips.
Advance information about visiting Tunisia offered a group camel opportunity, but also allowed for many “free days.” Perfect ... major dealing on my own. Little did I know then, of all Arab countries I’ve visited, Tunisia offers camels in abundance. You just have to know where to look.
We’re not talking safari treks here. Those too are always available. Much to my regret, I’m past my expiry date for packing/loading saddle bags and sleeping overnight on the desert sand. A few hours six or seven feet high on a good animal in dreamy peace is all I require.
Tunisian opportunity number one was quite spontaneous and still a bit embarrassing but you never know when the next opp will arise. Out of curiosity we had agreed to go to a small “animal park” south of Hammamet. Friguia Park proved to be interesting for numerous natural-habitat African animals and flamingo flocks: a very well maintained mini-zoo. Must say, though, the aquatic show with a trained seal was a bit puzzling in this environment.
The camels were there basically to give kids and parents a little thrill on a short ride. And families were predominant that day. What the heck, why not go for it.
You are going to see only one photo of me. Because I was flummoxed by the saddle arrangement, already posted about. I look like I’m sliding off the rear end. Even though set up here for adults taking children with them, it soon became evident the behind the hump saddle was standard throughout the country. It was not a time to question or argue, just shut up, get on, and—after a year’s absence—enjoy familiarizing the feel again for a few minutes.
My tour companions thought it was logical to sit behind the camel’s hump in order not to “hurt” it, and what was my querulous (boring) problem anyway? By now you know it took my Texas friend Doug to clarify the saddle question. I’m happy to report Doug will be a speaker at the 2013 International Camel Conference in the UK, on saddle construction and culture.
Tunisians speak of dromedaries, not camels. Quite so. That day, the pleasant ambience and the park layout in general made an enjoyable side trip. The dromedary was a little icing on the cake.