That one time I fell off a camel in Jordan

5 years ago

Sometimes life hands you a trip to Jordan (wahooo!) and sometimes life throws you off a camel in the middle of the desert in Jordan (oh crap!)

Travel isn’t always rainbows and unicorns.

As much as travel bloggers love to paint the world as a technicolor bomb of beauty, friendship, and once-in-a-lifetime-experiences, let’s be honest here, shit happens. Shit ALWAYS happens. In fact, I’d go as far as to say shit is 10 times more LIKELY to happen when you’re on the road than when you’re safe at home. But isn’t that why we love to travel? To test ourselves, to push our comfort zones and get outside the proverbial box?

And when shit strikes, it makes for a great story later, right? Right?


But I digress. Speaking as one who attracts incidents like moths to a flame, at this point in my traveling career, there are some activities I should JUST not be allowed to participate in. Riding animals that have a mind of their own should be at the top of that list.

Now I’ve been called many things in my life – motivated, smartass, quirky- but graceful? Um, never. Not once. Ever. Nope.

As much as I wish being poised, balanced and elegant was part of my character, unfortunately, I was handed other talents at birth – like talking myself out of tickets and having double-jointed knees, neither of which have been much use to me on the road.

It was a miracle I survived riding donkeys around Petra, so I know I was pushing my luck thinking I could go two for two and riding camels in the desert, though I feel like I should preface this by saying that I actually have camel riding experience, which is why I didn’t see this coming.

Expert camel riders over here in Giza

Exhibiting my gracefulness or lack thereof in Petra – in indication of what’s to come

Let me set the scene for you

The end of our trip in Jordan took place in the magical desert of Lawrence of Arabia, the famous Wadi Rum.

We spent the evening before exploring this lunar landscape in the back of a 4×4 followed up with a sleepless night of cooking and dancing at a Bedouin camp, smoking hubbly bubbly (hookah) and watching the stars twinkling in the inky black sky.

While the boys had an impromptu soccer match the next morning after breakfast, I snuck out behind the tents to take photos of the camels tied up waiting for our morning jaunt around Wadi Rum.

I should have known shit was going to hit the fan later when one of them tried to bite me.

As we were assigned our respective camels, I hefted myself up with as much grace and poise as I could muster (i.e. none) and tried to situate myself as best I could for our walk, while holding on for dear life. If the fact that this camel tried to bite me a few minutes before wasn’t enough of a sign, I should have noticed the look it gave me while I wiggled around trying to get comfortable.

Great, I got the cheeky camel. Typical.

Biting back a yell as my camel awkwardly stood up, I started to get excited to see more of the desert in the daytime. And off we went!

All the girls started ooh-ing and ahh-ing over a baby camel that trotted along beside us. Baby camels are cute and fluffy and look like they have little poofy mohawks. Adult camels? Not so much. They are sneaky bastards that will spit on you or bite you as soon as look at you. And they don’t smell so pleasant either. Don’t trust them.

Since we were in such a big group, at least 20 people or so, they split us into two camel trains, with everyone tied up behind another camel, with one of the camel drivers leading us on. Unfortunately, I don’t think they were paying attention to the fact that I got assigned the mischievous camel, and since I was the last in my train, they had tied my camel and another camel to the back of the same camel in a triangle, instead of three in a row – understand that?

This meant my troublemaking camel kept bumping hard into the one next to me to the point I was afraid I was going to get knocked off.

Eventually I motioned to the camel director to try to explain what was going on to ask him if he could untie me and then tie me to the back of my friend’s camel instead. As per usual when I try to explain some with one hand (other hand gripping the saddle for dear life), there was some miscommunication and he just untied me and handed me the reins and ran off to the front again.

Clearly he hasn’t read my blog and realized he was flirting with disaster by letting ME be in charge of a camel.

Little did he know my camel had a mind of her own.

After a second I just sort of went with it, thinking two (incredibly stupid) things: firstly, I have expert camel experience since I’ve ridden a camel three times in my life, and secondly, all these camels do is haul tourists around day in and day out. If they are anything like the donkeys and camels at Petra, they just trod along after each other, no matter what direction you give them.


Talking to myself, “be cool Liz,” I thought, “people ride camels all the time, you’re fine.”

Going with the flow, I tied my camera bag to the saddle (thank heavens) adjusted my camera around my neck and held onto the reins, trying to channel my inner Indiana Jones or Lawrence of Arabia.


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