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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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The Camel....

The Day of the Camel

Today is the exciting much anticipated day of the camel. We are going to ride to an ancient monastery. Naturally, we have to take a boat across the river to get to the camels. Regardless of which side of the river you are on, you always have to cross it and walk the plank to get to shore where you climb the required three flights of steps to get to whatever it is that you are going to.

This time, however, it was loose sand instead of steps. Climbing in loose sand is difficult as you take two steps forward and slide back one. At last I made it to the camels.  Even though the camels knelt down, I wondered how I would ever get on due to their size.

However, the camel drivers just pick me up and set me in the saddle. My camel is pretty well behaved, but some of the others are not. They want to do their own thing or are slower than the other camels, or stop to eat bushes.

The camel drivers eventually drag and whip the camels up the hill to the monastery, which turns out to be in ruins. There are more narrow stairs of rough stone to climb and more cobblestones to trip over. After the tour, we have to decide whether to ride camels back to the boat and walk to a home in the village or ride the camels to the village. Why walk when you can ride -- even on a camel?

The guide decides I am unable to ride alone, I guess, after my walking in the loose sand fiasco and my trouble with the steep stairs, he is afraid I will fall off. He has one of the camel drivers ride with me, double. So, here I go off across the Sahara desert on a camel with an Egyptian camel driver. He doesn't speak much English, which makes us even as I don't speak much Arabic. It is all very quaint and charming except for the camel driver's cell phone ringing and the smells. I don't know who smells worse, the camel, the driver, or me.

Anyhow, he drives the camel and I hold on for dear life. All goes well until we get to the village and the camel driver decides to take me down the alley by a stone wall to get to the house where we are going. The camel cuts a corner too close and catches my foot on the corner of the brick wall. I scream. I think my foot is broken. Fortunately, it is only scrapped and bruised, but it hurts for the rest of the day. What's one more inconvenience among so many?

I see my sister walking down the hill instead of riding and her driver is leading the camel. I find out later that her camel is "in training" and only likes going up hills, not down. They have to force him to go down and he stumbles along so she probably would fall off if she was riding on it.

After happily leaving the camels behind, we visit a Nubian home in the village where an entire extended family lives in one house. The Nubian people live in the southern part of Egypt and are somewhat darker skinned than the northern Egyptians. They served us the traditional hibiscus tea. The home is impoverished by our standards and makes me think of all we have and do not always appreciate. They have so little and yet seem happy.

We walk about half a mile back to the boat through alleys, streets and bazaars. Where is your camel when you need it? The children follow us and beg for coins. They are pitiful and yet so charming. An old woman dressed in black holds out her quivering hand for coins.

While people in cities seem to have a fairly comfortable existence according to their standards, those in the villages live a bare minimal existence much like people did hundreds of years ago. I wonder how I can ever complain about anything when I have so much and they have nothing.

The eyes of the old woman still haunt me.

Copyright 2010 Sheila Moss

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