Day 13, Timbuktu, Mali
An integral part of our plan for our time in Timbuktu was a trip further into the Sahara Desert. Ever since reading “The Little Prince” in high school, I had visions of going to this faraway place. I wanted to be in the place where the crash-landed aviator met the strange blonde headed traveler from asteriod B-612. And I wanted to ride a camel to get out there.
Unfortunately for me, a perfect storm of situations came together at just the wrong time to make my camel ride something that was a painful and just slightly excruciating experience. An experience I was VERY glad to have had, nonetheless.
I wasn’t afraid of the camel, or of riding the camel, or of anything at all about the camel part of the experience. But my body was rather irritated from all the time on the buses, and in the 4×4 and from the sleeping on the ground on the way out….from all that great adventure of getting to Timbuktu! However, the position in which you have to sit on the camel externally rotoated my right hip into just the exact wrong position for comfort. Plus, the saddle was tilted slightly to the side, so I was trying to stabilize myself from slipping to the side, which aggravated my hip even more. I had the sensation of an taser constantly going off in my groin and shooting down my leg.
For this picture, I made the worst face I could. This was at the beginning of the camel ride. The ride was only about an hour and a half. And I was making my camel nervous because of my constant shifting, and with my moving my feet away from where they were supposed to be. But me and Abzaabaa stuck with it, and I made it the Tuareg camp. I had to! I had to say I rode a camel into the Sahara Desert. My camel’s handler Ibrahim was also very patient with me. “You’re much like a Tuareg woman.”, he told me. Tuareg woman, he explained, don’t care for camel riding. They prefer to be closer to the ground and so they ride donkeys instead. I think he thought I was afraid. I don’t think he quite appreciated the pain I was in. He would come back and try to reposition me by moving my right leg and my foot into the right position for riding, and each time he would do that my pain would increase four-fold, and I would try to explain why I was having troubles, but in the end, I think he thought I was just afraid. “We’ll fix it in the morning for the ride back”, he promised. Even in this picture you can see me holding my right leg in my hand, trying to keep it from externally rotating out. For days after this, when I was externally rotate my hip, I got taser’ed!
So, I gritted my teeth, and I rode that camel out of Timbuktu and into the Sahara…
And Ibrahim straightened the saddle, but I walked back!!!