Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why Did the Camel Cross the Road?

Some in the Middle East say it was a Zionist plot. Others that, like the chicken, it was to get to the other side. On one of our too many trips to Be'er Sheva to get medical care we were stopped just outside of town by a herd of camels that were being driven across Route 40 to the other side of the road.

Camels cross Route 40 just outside Be'er Sheva

All along Route 40 between Be'er Sheva and Mitzpe Ramon are signs that say "Beware of Camels by the Road".  Despite having driven this route many times, I have never seen a camel by the road before. 

  "Beware of Camels Near the Road"

 The one exception was on our taxi ride to Mitzpe Ramon from Ben Gurion when we made Aliyah. On that occasion I saw two Bedouin racing their camels by the side of Route 40.

Hobbled camels on Route 40

There are Bedouin shanty towns that line Route 40 outside of Be'er Sheva toward Mitzpe Ramon for some distance, and they do have livestock plus the occasional camel. But these camels are usually far from the road, usually just an isolated one or two, and standing so stock still that they might be environmental art.

So, it was quite a surprise to see so many camels making a huge commotion as they were driven across the road. The front legs of the camels are hobbled with ties to keep them from running away. Despite this attempt at control, the occasional camel does try to escape. This big boy first tried running toward Be'er Sheva until he was beaten back with big sticks by the Bedouin. He then tried running in the opposite direction toward Miztpe Ramon, until they beat him back into the herd. 

A big camel tries to make his escape from the Bedouin

The herd of camels made quite a hew and cry, sounding like something out of the Silence of the Lambs. Once they got to the other side of the road things quieted down and we continued on our way.

Cries like something out of the Silence of the Lambs

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