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canoeing, kayaking and other adventures

canoeing and kayaking adventures born in the Southeastern U.S. and now centered in Scotland...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Camel Safari - Day 6 - 8/11/2008

As promised, we returned to pet the camels on Saturday, when we could get a bus to the camel park. Brian and I walked over to meet the camels, which were tethered together wagon train style. The guides immediately started organising us onto camels, which meant Brian and I got the lead camel.

Technically, the camels on Lanzarote are dromedaries, one-humped camels.

The camels' loads were balanced roughly with sandbags, which meant the bigger the weight difference the bigger the sandbag. The guide put a makeshift seatbelt around each of us. One of the camels behind us made grumpy camel noises as everyone was being loaded. Once all of the pairs were on their camels, the guide came through and asked each camel to stand up. Back legs came up first, tipping us forward by about 45 degrees. Then we were kicked backward a bit when our camel stood up on her front legs.

Yes, all of the camels at the camel safari were female. Our tour guide on the bus tour explained that the male camels were much grumpier and more prone to rivalries. The complaining camel behind us continued her grunty complaining. Once everyone's camels were standing up and not thrilled about going anywhere, the guide led our group away from the camel loading area.

Our guide knew two phrases in English that he used frequently and effectively. "Oh my God!" and "Hold on tight!"

As our camels walked into the park, the guide tossed the reins of our camel to me with a well-placed "Oh my God!" to go with it. He walked back along the camel train. Our camel continued for a few paces and stopped. I think the guide gave her a little nudge and she continued a few more paces and stopped again. More Oh my Gods and Hold on tights followed.

Grudgingly, our camel led us up the hill of chunky lava gravel. We were surrounded by a landscape of reds and browns typical of young volcanoes. Eventually our camel guide took the reins again as we neared the top of the trail. He stopped and gave us a nice view across the landscape. Sadly, when he offered to take photos of everyone, I had to say no. My poor camera was not happy.

Our guide led us to the next overlook with a few more Oh my Gods and Hold on tights along the way. He made like he was going to lead our camel off the trail and down the steep gravelly hill. Our camel would have none of that and we laughed at the look she gave him.

We wandered a bit farther down the trail and he did the same. This time, when our camel stopped abruptly, the camel behind her didn't stop so quickly. I got a camel kiss on my right arm. In truth, I think it was a camel shove to get us to keep moving, but with no luck. Through the wire and cloth muzzles, camel kisses are about as slobbery as dog kisses. I bet that makes them even more slobbery without the muzzles. Brian was jealous that I got camel kisses and he didn't.

I am pretty sure it started after the camel kisses but our camel became a full suspension camel on the way back to the loading area. As she walked down the trail, Brian and I seesawed on our seats. We looked around and didn't see anyone else with anywhere near as much wobbling. I tried to shift my weight to the right a bit to balance but that didn't help at all. We continued in full suspension mode all the way to the bottom of the hill and back into the camel loading area. It eased a little on the flats but I wondered if the next riders would be in for the same.

Our camel ride came to an end with our camel sitting down again. Kicked back, kicked forward and then we were on the ground again. We pet our camel and told her thank you.

The bus journey gave us an extra half hour at the camel park before taking us back to Matagorda. We visited the shop for an ice cream and stood outside to watch the next camel safaris. I saw our camel leading the next group as enthusiastically as she led ours. The guide tossed the reins to the woman in what used to be my seat. Suddenly, our camel made a hard right and started walking toward us. Not running because she wasn't that enthusiastic about it but definitely heading away from the park entrance. The guide's Oh my Gods were interrupted briefly while he had to grab the reins and lead her back on track.

We bid the camels farewell and headed back to the hotel. Back earlier than we expected, we picked up our snorkeling gear and headed to Playa Chica, a spot recommended by the dive shop proprietor who sold me my mask and snorkel. It was protected from the effects of wind and current by piles of rock on either side. He was right. We saw loads of fish, small fish near the beach and larger fish getting closer to the end of the sheltered area. The water was still quite cold but at least the air temperature was getting closer to making up for it.

I should also mention that our hotel had entertainment each night. Sometimes it was rubbish, but on our last night it was pretty good. A man and a woman, both acrobats, put on an hour long show. The woman was amazingly flexible and showed off lots of bendy poses. The man was a bit of a goof -- he juggled a lot and balanced on silly things. Sometimes they did both together. We were pleased that the entertainment was good for our last night and we didn't need to find other ways to entertain ourselves. We had our last dinner at the same place as our first dinner, which ended perfectly with the delicious ron miel (honey rum) with cream and cinnamon.

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