Friday, December 17, 2010

The Saddest Place on Earth

The hubs and I had two colleagues and their kids over for lunch today. Afterwards, they decided to go ride camels down at the beach, the Mister and I decided to come along. Our guests had mentioned this animal beach before. They described it as a place where you would pay a guy to ride his camel, and there were little Shetland ponies and 4 wheelers and things like that for hire as well. It sounded like one of those parking lot "fairs" that pop up in Wal-Mart parking lots at home. It sounded a little redneck, but harmless.

This little guy was so funny juxtaposed next to a giant camel.

Boy were we wrong! First of all, this mish-mash of "entertainment" is literally on the beach. The sand is so packed down and polluted with horse apples and car oil that it looks like asphalt, but it's not. There's not really an entrance, so much as a break in the palm trees where you pull off the highway and into the sand while the cars behind you whiz by at 80 miles an hour.

Notice the winter thobe on the horse wrangler. The dark colors come out when the "cold" weather arrives.

We should have known that, since we are in the Arab world, there would be no sort of organization to the whole mess of animals and ATVs. There were teenagers speeding through the crowd in their SUVs, weaving past scared horses and children. People were parked anywhere they wanted and in any formation they wanted. There was a little roped off area for the miniature 4 wheelers and their pre-school drivers, but if you wanted to ride one of the mini ponies, you just needed to yell angrily at the wrangler and he'd trod over with his horse and his camel (they were sort of a package deal) and you'd negotiate the price for a 3 minute ride. There were guys driving these metal buggy/farm trailer...things; some with Arabic music whining quietly from the front bench, their niqabed and thobed passengers giggling gleefully.

All the while, the drivers were hanging out the side yelling at their friends as they passed in buggies going the opposite direction. If you were in the way, you were plumb out of luck!

While I could see how this whole scenario of visual and olfactory over stimulation would be fun for kids, the Mister and I just found it to be incredibly depressing. The animals looked so sad, and the beach was covered in litter and filth.


I think our colleagues were a little disappointed that the hubs and I didn't hop right on the camel after they got off with their kids, but neither of us really wanted to take part in this whole scene. I couldn't help but wonder where these poor animals were kept when they weren't being paraded back and forth between SUVs and squealing children.

I'm sure there are places where one can ride a camel without feeling like you're crushing the poor thing's dreams with every step. We just haven't found those places yet. When we do, we'll ride the camels and take lots and lots of pictures.

Till then, we remain

Vicariously yours,

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