I had an interview with “Fred” the camel on my trip to Israel. I met Fred across the Galilean Sea, when we landed there from Jerusalem. We had a wonderful dinner of Peter’s fish, walked around, and then I saw Fred, a huge, very relaxed camel, who was there to ride on. Naturally, I couldn’t pass up the chance to ride Fred.
I mounted his hump, and he rose very slowly, lifting me up on his long but sturdy legs. As we walked around, I had a taste of what it was like to travel on camelback across the desert, like people did way, way back.
As I was riding, I asked Fred how he was doing, and he related his story to me.
I was doing fine in the desert, walking miles across the sand, carrying sometimes heavy loads and sometimes light. I was fed pretty good and carried my own water supply so I was not thirsty until we reached another watering hole.
But then one day this man from the big city liked me, and my physique, and bought me from my owner for some canned goods and a few beads. Well, off I went to the big city – no sand for my feet, just hard rocks, crushed down to what they call gravel roads. It was hard on my feet. I wanted to get a pair of tennis, but they didn’t have any in my size and they couldn’t understand what I was saying. I guess they never did business with a camel before.
Then all of a sudden one day I was taken to a huge building, with lots of things that took images of me in all directions. I really didn’t have a clue as to what was going on until I walked by what was called a news stand and was shocked!
There on a big sign was a picture of me with words I didn’t understand until I spoke with a monkey from the zoo. He told me the words said, “A delight to smoke – Camel Cigarettes!” I had no idea what cigarettes were until the monkey showed me. You know, monkey see – monkey do. Anyway, I wasn’t sure if that was good or not.
After several years my owner passed away and I was shipped to a zoo. Oh the food was good, and there was plenty of water, so I didn’t have to fill myself up, but it was very boring. I became listless and rebellious, wanting the feel of the desert sand under my feet again and the fresh air in my nostrils.
I guess it showed in my attitude a lot, because they brought in a doctor. One of those “camel-lot” know it all people. Well, he didn’t come to any conclusion at all. Then the monkey visited me and said if I acted really homesick they might send me back home.
Wow! I thought that would be great! So I started my plot. When I stepped on something hard, I acted like it hurt my feet. I drank a lot of water to fill my reservoir and then didn’t have to drink for days. I started to eat the leaves off the trees (I really didn’t care for them, but what the heck). Keeping this up for a period of time brought no relief. So I just stopped.
Then finally one day this man showed up from across the water – Israel! “Oh my gosh,” I thought. I stared at the man and went to him. I wanted to lick his face but couldn’t.
The man left and I didn’t see him for awhile. One day, when I had decided this was the way the rest of my life was going to be, the zoo keeper came to me and harnessed me, led me to a big truck, and off I want. I was really worried as I didn’t know where I was going. “Do people eat camel meat?” I thought. I kept quiet, not knowing what was next. Then the truck stopped and I was taken off, and led down a long ramp into a dark place. After awhile I felt like I was moving, like swaying, but I couldn’t see anything. There were very few openings I the room I was in, so I just waited.
A few days later, maybe a week, I’m not sure, the room stopped moving and a big door opened letting the light of the day. When they led me out, I was so happy. In front of me was the man from the zoo. Oh yeah! It was him! My dream man!
He took the straps from my neck and led me to another truck. I traveled for a day, and they again over the water to — Oh yes! — The place I was taken from! Home again! At last!
At this point my ride was over and as I dismounted from Fred, I looked at him and smiled. Fred winked back, and we parted. I often think of Fred and know he’s okay because he’s home again.