Yes, to ride a camel, I know a very random thing to have on your bucket list but you need to have a few of those. There is also a good reason for why I added it. When I was younger, on a family holiday to Marrakech, when I was aged about 15, we were out in the desert and was offered the opportunity to ride a camel but I got too scared and completely talked myself out of it, due to irrational fear. I later regretted that I let my fear get in the way of an adventure, and I wanted to make myself face this fear and take on the challenge.
Well, the opportunity to face this fear, came as part of my trip to Marrakech (back to the scene of the crime more or less) for a friend’s birthday weekend. You can read more about the whole trip to Marrakech here. One of his gifts from another friend on the trip was for a group of us to all go out to an oasis park and ride camels and then have mint tea. He asked if any of us wanted to come, and I knew this was my chance (as not too many camel rides available in central London). I was the first to put my hand up, and I fixed my mindset on conquering the fear. It helped that I told a number in the group about my past experience, apprehension and it being a bucket list item. They were all really supportive.
So we arrived, and oasis park is being a bit generous, it was just a sanding industry park with a busy road right through the middle and a factory to one side – so great rid of your images of Prince of Arabia. After we arrived, we were given traditional kaftans to wear – at first not a major fan of the orange and a head scarf, but when all put together and with my vintage YSL sunglasses, started to really own the look.
Then it was time to meet the camels, they were brought over in a long line, and all looked a bit subdued and as they came closer, you saw they were massive mighty beasts. Well before I could get more into my head, I was taken by the hand and put on a camel. Instant shock factor, especially when they get the camel to stand up again, my friend has a lovely boomerang of the moment.
Nevertheless, there I was atop a camel, and leader of the pack. We were then walked around the park by our lovely guides. I can tell you now, camels, don’t make for that smooth a ride, and my bum was pretty sore early on. You also definitely feel it when you speed up and go over a few humps (pun intended). Also the camel behind me, every now and then, was to poke me in the bum too.
For someone facing their fear of riding a camel, I was feeling good and quickly let go of all of those negative feelings and was just in the moment and loving life.
At one point on our ride, the guide handed me the reins to my camel (and therefore the whole series of camels, as they were all connected to each other with me in the front) and told me to lead the group around. That was very exciting and really made know I was truly riding a camel, but was all well and good until my camel wanted to detour for a snack and I completely lost the battles of wills between us on what direction we should take. I can also confirm the excited/nervous of the camel going up is matched by when you need the camel to come down to get off – I nearly feel over the camel’s head on the way down.
Afterwards, I was so happy, I hadn’t stopped smiling from being midair going up on the camel. Yes, there was nerves throughout, but I decided to be in the moment and lean in to those fears. I conquered those irrational thoughts and had a magical experience.