The beduin said nothing as he led the camel up the path. Around me, I could barely distinguish the outline of the mountain. I hear the other camels carrying our group. I leaned over and touched the hide of the camel, wondering how it would feel like. His skin/ fur was similar to a horse.
"Who's there?" I shout out as I sensed a camel coming up from my rear. I felt uneasy being alone in the darkness and I longed for conversation. We were told not to use our flashlights as these might blind the camels so it was impossible to tell who was beside you.
"It's me!" a girl shouted.
I could hardly see who this "me" is, considering that we were about 90 people in the group, so I asked, "Who is ME?"
I smiled. It was one of the younger girls in our group. In front of me, another girl shouted "Hey, Imelda. It's me Yolly"
My camel was getting grumpy. The beduin who was guiding me was having a hard time commanding it to move forward. Every once in awhile, it would try to make a U turn and go back down from the path we had come from.
I chatted up some of the people beside me. It was dark and as we learned, a very long ways up. The saddle had a handle in front and at the back, which made riding a bit rough. I gripped them both as the camel rocked me back and forth trying to sway with the rocking motion of the camel. I figured it would make it less hard on my bum. I was wondering how long this would take. (guessing the boys would have a hard time in this kind of seat)
I squinted and tried to make out the path we were going. I could make out shadows of the side of the path as we slowly ascended up. I look up and see the silhouette of the camels of the other who were in front. To the left of us was the side of the path, the ravine side. In the dark, you can't really SEE anything but you can SENSE that there is a ravine there somewhere especially when your camel decides that he want to walk on the LEFT side most of the time!
By mid way, the Bedouin was REALLY making an effort to control the stubborn camel. Every one in awhile, it would bump another camel beside me, squishing me feet in between that I had to shout "oww!!" By this time, the beduin gives me a stick and gestures me to whip the camel on the backside. Really???
I make a light handed tap on the camel, shouting "Yala, habibi!!" like what I heard out tour guide shout when he is calling us. My friends laugh.
The beduin gestures "more!" I feel guilty as I give a better tap--(secretly, I feel excited at being able to "guide" the camel) I ended up shouting louder rather than tapping harder. The others in the bottom of the pack instantly recognizes my voice. (truth to tell, my voice is like a child's- quite thin and shrill)
"Imelda!!!!!!" they shout from the bottom
I shout back the hello's and laugh. This is getting to be fun after all.
Midway, another beduin took over my camel and it seemed the camel is more agreeable to him (I am guessing the first one was not the original owner) and I had no problems with my ride after that. It was a long ride and I had packed some small chocolates with me (for energy) and some dried dates. I rummaged through my bag and give my beduin a pack of dried apricots.
He looks at it and asks "good?"
"yeah, it's nice!!" I tell him.
He seems skeptical. I try to tell him "apricot" but I could not determine if he understood. Finally he eats it and exclaims, "good!". He reaches out his hand to me again, "chocolate!"
Errr… ok… not even a thank you??
The tour guide warned us that the beduins would be persistent in asking for anything you have on. Particularly asking for chocolates, your bag, your pen or whatever they think they can mooch/ask from you. It is not impolite to tell them that you need or still want to keep you things. They would usually brush it off and try on some other poor guy.
Next: reaching the top