Special to The Village News
It was around ten o'clock one night when I heard my phone plink notifying me of a message. Concerned it might be one of my far away family members, I checked to see who it was.
It turned out to be a former bridge partner waving to me from the back of a camel. (His name is Edward Carson Beall and he used to live in Pala with his wife Suzie who passed from cancer about four years ago.)
I texted back, "How did you get there?"
He texted back, "I flew on Emirates Airlines to Abu Dhabi."
"No, how'd you get on the camel?"
"With difficulty," he replied.
It turns out the camel kneels next to "a box used to stand on...along with a hearty butt shove" and somehow or other his 6'3" lanky self was perched on top of a sure-footed dromedary.
"You may or may not know," he continues, "when a camel stands up from a sitting position it stands up with back legs first which tends to throw the rider right off the back." A fact I did not know.
"I was seated in a wooden saddle that was covered by a dyed goat hair blanket. It must have been the sporty model, I guess, because it had big red tassels hanging from the corners."
Once mounted, "we rode out into the desert to a Bedouin camp, about one plus hours too long, they had to pull me off," Ed texted. Although Ed implied he was exhausted, it seems his camel, Sultan, wasn't the least bit tired.
My next question was "Where in the world are you now?"
"I'm in the desert near Al Ain," he replied.
"This is just the beginning of an eight-day leg after Al Ain. I went on to Dubai, Shay bah, Khasab, and Fujairah. A lot in just a few days."
"Then I went off course to visit Oman with stops in Muscat and Bahrain."
"I boarded an Oceana cruise ship through the Gulf of Oman into the Arabian Sea, down the west coast of India with stops at Sir Bani Yas, Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore, Cochin, across to Praslin in the Seychelles continuing to Male in the Maldives, stopping at La Dugan and up through Mozambique, Mombasa, Zanzibar, Mayotte, Richards' Bay, then Durban, around to Cape Town and back ending in Port Elizabeth, South Africa."
At the time, his big concern was "the rough seas could cause me to miss my transfer to meet up with my 3-day safari in Kenya. The ship can't get into port. But I made it."
At the safari camp, "There were about 10 stand-alone glass rooms/huts. The floor to ceiling glass walls can be covered for privacy but I mostly left them open for the view."
Ed finished his tale when he got back home to Santa Barbara.
"The part I least enjoyed about the safari was that every morning the guides got us up and into our jeeps at 5:00 a.m. We didn't see all of the big 5, but we did see a pride of white lions, regular lions, zebras, rhinos, hippos, topped off with lots of elephants. In fact, one curious male came in to take a closer look at me."
"My favorite part on safari was the afternoon outing into the wilds because we always returned for a 'sundowner cocktail' on the open plains," he ended.
Ed is an intrepid world traveler. In fact, he dragged his courageous bride Suzie around the globe to off-track locations. This is a partial list of their adventures. They spent a night in an ice hotel in Sweden; they crashed into Russia in a balloon, only to helicopter and land inside the Kamchatka volcano, then went skiing in June in Petropavlovsk, Russia.
They traveled to and from Timbuktu, went tent camping in the Serengeti National Park, collected camel bones in Petra, traveled the highways through Johannesburg, climbed to the top of Machu Picchu, spent a week in the Buenos Aires delta, collected monkey skulls in the Upper Amazon, drove alone outside Nairobi to start a safari after chasing baboons from the car in Kruger Park, and they shot the rapids under Victoria Falls along the Zambezi River.
Clearly, Suzie deserves her place in heaven.
As for me, I've gotten a solid geography lesson about a different part of the world just writing his story.
By the way, while on this trip, Ed celebrated another birthday last December, it was his 89th.
Elizabeth can be reached at [email protected].