I grew up on a Hoosier farm surrounded by cattle, cats, dogs, ducks, ponies, later a horse, and sometimes hogs. I enjoy animals and when I learned that riding a camel was on the agenda during our trip to Israel, I was all in.
There was no way I was not going to ride a camel!
We visited a camel ranch and our group members of about 35 took our turns riding an assortment of camels. My riding partner was my pal and roommate for the trip, Terri Fredericks.
Mounting a camel is nothing like getting on a horse. The camel has to work with you a great deal on this – and despite his appearing to smile, he is not a happy camper about the experience. The camel has to begin by folding his legs under him and lying down. Once we are on board, there is a particular way the riders have to lean in unison when the camel takes to his feet. It’s a bit like being swept up on a roller-coaster. There is a video of this scene, taken by our friend, Delaine, but it’s not a pretty picture.
It was, however, hilarious.
Once he’s on his feet, we took a nice ride around the grounds, overlooking the desert wilderness surrounding us. The camel knew the path well as that was his job, hauling foreigners around his territory. There were moments looking out into the wilderness … and imagining … this was the landscape so many biblical figures witnessed for themselves. This, the Promised Land.
During our couple of hours at the ranch, we enjoyed a traditional Middle Eastern meal in a large tent on the grounds. Always when I had read in the Bible about people living in tents and picking up their tents and moving, I had an American mindset of small, utilitarian tents used for camping trips.
A furnished Middle Eastern tent is actually elegant when decked out with furnishings. It felt like we were in a house, not in a tent on a barren piece of wilderness on a camel ranch.
If you ever get a chance, ride a camel.
So here it comes: Happy Hump Day, everyone!