The Middle East has called to me from the time I was a young child. I had amazing opportunities to travel, explore and speak to many animals in that region.
One of the many trips to that part of the world brought me to Saudi Arabia and then onto Israel. The next stop was Egypt, for a journey to the top of Mount Sinai. I was eager for my feet to touch the earth on that historical mountain. I wanted to spend time there to experience the culture and see the world through the eyes of the native people.
On the way to my hotel at the base of the mountain, I stopped at several souks along the way. The term souk comes from Arabic and refers to marketplaces in the Middle East and Africa. It was one of the ways to interact with the people and understand their trade.
I then headed for the hotel to get bed early because the alarm was set for 1:00 AM to begin trek up the mountain. The goal was to reach the top by sunset.
I wanted to complete the hike on foot so I could connect to the earth, but halfway up I realized that I was going to need some assistance from the camels. At various intervals along the way, they were parked at camel stops or camel rests. Little boys would rent the camels for they knew that the people would tire and need their services.
It was here that I met Whiskey the camel. One young boy offered Whiskey to take me the rest of the way up the mountain. I agreed and thought it would be an interesting experience to ride a camel in these parts. I paid the fee but before I mounted Whiskey the boy said, “You know, if you ask Whiskey to give you a kiss he will, and then I could take a picture of you both.”
How wonderful, I thought, would it be to get a picture of Whiskey giving me a kiss? I gave the boy the camera, sat next to Whiskey and then asked him for a kiss. He was happy to oblige, but the young boy fumbled with the camera. We tried a second time and Whiskey obliged once again. The boy fumbled once more with the camera. He assured me that now he knew what to do and to try once more. For the third time, I asked Whiskey for a kiss, not realizing he was tiring of the repeated questions. This time Whiskey replied in a roar, “No more kisses!!” It was in this moment that the boy snapped the picture below.
You can see Whiskey’s frustration in the photo as I was telling him that I understood his feelings and asked that he not take a bite out of my face. He said he felt better just to express himself and assured me he would not hurt me. We laughed together with Whiskey. He was happy to get us on our way up the mountain.