December 18--Iran, Plate with a Hunting Scene. The only way was to ride the camel. Claire looked in vain for a horse, even a donkey to ride but none of the tours of the Valley of the Antelope had anything but camels. Darren and Millie were already mounted, Millie patting her camel and giggling about sheiks and harems. Claire finally let herself be persuaded to perch awkwardly on the bony back of a bad tempered camel named Saddam. She barely understood the camel driver's instructions about controlling the creature. He said his name was Johnny Depp but she was sure it was a nom de caravan meant to make tourists feel comfortable. She kept smiling and nodding. It struck her that she was doing the same thing her Guatemalan gardener Mario did. He understood most of what she said, she thought, but he smiled through it all and just did what he thought she wanted him to do instead of asking questions. It nearly drove her mad. She wondered if Johnny Depp complained to his wife about them after a long day of tourist tours. All thoughts fled as Saddam lurched to his feet almost pitching her off, first forward, then back. There was no time for philosophizing or even thinking on your first camel ride, she realized as the string of camels started striding along, Saddam bringing up the rear. She caught sight of what looked like a tawny dog with horns far in the distance. It was either the antelope the valley was named for or a statue put up for tourists. It was far away so until it moved she couldn't be sure it was real. Johnny Depp spent the trip riding next to Millie pointing out interesting sights, ruins and rocks mostly, and making Millie laugh. Trailing behind on Saddam with his bad disposition and what sounded like a digestive problem, Claire felt like an ugly stepsister. She had just decided to stop brooding and urge Saddam to catch up with the others when something whizzed by her head. Her eyes widened with horror to see an arrow protruding from one of the little antelopes. Hamir, the assistant camel driver, rode out across the rocky desert and came triumphantly back with the carcase draped across the camel's neck. Claire got a little lightheaded thinking how close she had come to being shot. Hamir rode up next to her, patted the little creature, and with a big grin on his face said, "lunch!"
I would totally ride a camel. I think a two-humper would be easier to sit on than a one-humper, but I'd give it a shot. What's a little indignity among friends? Lentil soup for lunch today. Aren't you jealous? It's homemade.
P.S. That's Saturday and Sunday night's writing. I think I'm going to combine them from now on since there's only one "art" for each weekend.