today I am catching up on January by adding several posts, so if you don’t want to miss anything or get half the story, flip back and forwards for all posts dated 26 January. And Happy Australia Day to those celebrating back in my old country.
You cannot imagine and pictures really cannot show how exciting this race is. Unlike the camel race I wrote about in a previous post, for this race you don’t just watch the camels with riders run, you race with the camels and with hundreds of cars full of local Bedouin.
The big yearly camel race between the Muzeina and Tarabeen Bedouin tribes of Nuweiba was held at Wadi Zalaga, South Sinai, on 10 January 2013.
The pictures of the racing were taken during a high speed off-road ride, so there is some distortion from photos being taken through window glass, and movement due to photographer being unable to stay firmly seated when riding over desert bumps! I shared the car with an all male TV crew and they being bigger and heavier managed to stay in their seats, but my head hit the interior roof of the car three times as I flew off my seat (no seatbelts). If I had realized we were going to be part of the race, not sitting on the sidelines, I don’t know if I would have braved it. But it was an exhilarating ride, accompanying the camels and about 200 cars and trucks loaded with Bedouin, some yelling and shooting (yes, guns) from the cars as we sped along the wadi.
The experience included a more placid 50km drive into beautiful desert the day before the race, to camp with about 20 Bedouin and their camels under the stars and be close to the race area for the early morning start.
I was the only woman in our camp, and again experienced that it is more difficult being female than male in the desert when your bladder is full; finding a private place isn’t easy in a landscape of sand and treeless rock cliffs.
Like the Bedouin I slept fully dressed and with a thick wool blanket, but desert nights in winter are freezing and this really was not enough in a tent with one side open to the stars. I woke next day to find one of the Bedouin had kindly covered me with a second blanket, as he knew how cold it would be.