It is weird, I know, but it is almost as if, on the ferry across to Masirah Island, you lose the awareness that there will be camels on the island. I guess it is similar in a way to when we get back to New Zealand during our Summer vacation most years, we do not expect to encounter wandering camels, sheep, or goats on our travels, yet as soon as we are back in Oman, not only is it a possibility, but a probability!
Anyway, mostly on Masirah Island for a spot of fishing from its beautiful beaches, we decided to spend the ‘non-fishing’ hours in the middle of the day by taking in the sights of the wonderful little micro-climate, its unique geology, its flora, fauna, and its people, mindful however of the distancing requirements of the COVID-19 reality.
We encountered this small herd of wandering camels about halfway up the Western side of the island as we returned towards Al Hilf after a quiet morning’s fishing, and so much looking and learning, being tourists, that it was late’ish in the afternoon. The flicking of his headlights by an oncoming motorist gave warning of ‘something’ ahead, and it was almost with amusement and surprise we saw this relaxed, almost amused herd wander from our right towards the road.
Of course, it was another photo opportunity, so Lena went into action, diving into the back of our trusty Hummer to fetch her Canon camera for some ‘click action.’ The light offered subtle colour and contrast you could never produce artificially as the herd languidly gazed at us, interested yet not, aware yet not worried, it was almost a beautiful meeting of minds as they gave Lena all the action she needed, gave me the chance to admire them close-up, and gave them the opportunity to pose for the camera, no selfies, but for a camel, the next best thing.
Our amusement was complete when one young beast ‘folded’ himself down, and looking directly at Lena as if he were saying, “Here, get this… I’ll bet you’ve never seen a camel do this before?” With that, he (maybe, I didn’t check), rolled and frolicked around on the ground, stretching, rolling, shaking, and having a ‘right little one-camel-party,’ for about two minutes.
Lena ‘snapped’ away merrily, and the young one only stopped when an elder wandered over and must have given him the camel equivalent of a ‘telling-off,’ as he awkwardly got to his feet and in his gangly, uncoordinated gait, ambled away to join the larger part of the herd who had waited patiently as if he does this sort of showing-off, all the time.
These camels appeared, to the un-camel-trained eye, to be in excellent condition, and very… contented. They were a nice little interaction, a nice diversion from COVID-19, and that young, gamboling, gangly character of a camel left us with smiles on our faces for the whole of the day.
I know, some of you are thinking, “Well you are easily pleased then!’ But really, no we are not, it was just a one-off experience, one you could not bottle, and one we felt we should share.
By Ray Petersen
Photos by Lena Petersen