I am an equestrian. As a younger woman I rode quite a bit. For 2 years I managed a camp horse program. It was heaven. The work was hard, but the rewards far outweighed the effects of the strain on my body.
Riding horses is just one aspect of being an equestrian. For me the grooming and cleaning is just as exhilarating. Each horse has a unique personality. Horses, for the most part, want to have a relationship with their 'owners.' Trained (and treated) properly they will behave in similar ways to a dog.
I really don't know much about camels except that they are stubborn and they spit. Baby camels are just precious and cute, but from what I see, they grow up into obnoxious creatures.
And yet, in parts of the world, camels are raised for all kinds of things: transportation, heavy hauling and food. I know that I will be able to see lots of camels in Mauritania. I am also going to have the chance to EAT camels in Mauritania.
Camel hump, properly prepared, is apparently a delicious culinary experience. As I have mentioned in a previous posting, I love gelatinous and gristley food. While watching "No Reservations" with Anthony Bourdain, I was told that camel meat is rather tasty. Or at least Mr. Bourdain liked it. I'll let you know in January what I discover for myself.
According to Wikipedia there are 14 million Dromedary (one hump) camels living mainly as domesticated livestock around Somalia, Sudan and Mauritania. There are fewer Bactrian (two hump) camels around the world, mainly China, Mongolia, and Australia.
One of my favorite movies is "The Story of the Weeping Camel." It's a wonderful story about a family in the Gobi region of Mongolia. After a difficult birth a mother camel rejects it's baby causing the family to intercede to keep this calf alive. Not only do you learn about the people of this region, but the ending is very moving. It's not an action film, but I highly recommend it on so many levels. (My family makes fun of my enthusiasm for this film.)
So on a couple different levels I am looking foward to meeting some camels: up close and personal. I also look forward to tasting the meat, and hump, and drinking the milk, which is said to have curative powers if the camel eats certain plants. And....it can be an aphrodisiac. :)
I am most looking foward to riding a camel. (You got this, Paul?) Given their stubborn nature, I am not certain that they will be like riding a horse.
Then my sister sent me this video. I am rethinking my assumptions. :)
But still looking forward to meeting one of these fascinating creatures.