Helping the Bedouin in Jordan
Debra and John Merry travelled to Jordan with Audley in March 2011. Here, they talk about one particularly memorable experience from their trip, when their help was needed to deliver a baby camel!
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It didn’t seem right, speeding down the King’s Highway with Chris De Burg, crooning romantically to the song Lady in Red. Our driver Ahmed had carefully chosen the English classic for our benefit, until I asked, ‘Have you got any Arabic music?’ Surprised, he replied ‘You like? ‘I like.’ I told him. So from that point on, Arabic rock music boomed through the car stereo as we cruised along happily, and our driving experience was complete.
We were replete from a meal we had enjoyed the previous night at the Petra Kitchen, a brilliant shared experience, with four other like-minded people, cooking our own Jordanian food under the guidance and watchful eye of Stephen Gerrard’s Arab brother? I’m not convinced he was telling the truth, but it made everyone laugh, and the evening was really great, and the food amazing. We were even given a copy of the recipes to try when we got back home.
So, we were ready to meet our Bedouin driver Ali and embrace the desert as we sped into Wadi Rum. We bumped our way through passages of sandstone rocks and vast expanses of desert terrain, occasionally chancing upon the black canvas tents of the Bedouin. Then, quite unexpectedly, we stumbled upon a group of Bedouin, frantically waving their arms about, beckoning us to stop; one of their camels was in distress.
What followed was the most amazing experience imaginable. We ended up assisting in the birth of a baby camel. John had to sit on her neck with all his weight to hold her down, feeling at the same time for contractions and successfully dodging the incredibly powerful long back legs that were aiming for his head, whilst Ali and four other young men pulled ferociously, using every ounce of their combined strength to haul the baby out, and I rolled Ali’s sleeves up out of the way.
Strangely one chap squatted at the camel’s head and smoked endless cigarettes all the way through. He kind of reminded me of an expectant father outside the delivery room.
After a while it became clear that all was not going well. In desperation, one man called up on his mobile for assistance, the baby was breech. When help arrived, he was a very old man, who took charge immediately. We assumed he was a qualified vet, as he expertly manipulated the baby to its birth, to the relief of the mother and cheers all round from the exhausted participants. Some time later, we discovered he was the local Bedouin camel midwife, experience being his only qualification.
What an amazing encounter, just us, and half a dozen Bedouin, in the middle of the Wadi Rum, celebrating not with champagne but with a glass of Bedouin Whiskey or hot, sweet, black tea as we would call it.
Jordan is a wonderful country, steeped in fascinating history, the Treasury in Petra is a must see and floating on the Dead Sea reading a newspaper is a surreal experience (no I didn’t believe it either). But most of all I will remember our brief insight into the real life of the desert and a baby camel being born.
A truly wonderful, diverse, holiday experience every well thought out and carefully coordinated by the team at Audley, suiting our every need. Unforgettable.