Al Wathba Camel Races
Abu Dhabi Travel Blog› entry 2 of 5 › view all entries
May 23rd, 2009 – by: dianajnz
Over by the start line, a man greets us in english and describes what is happening. He is the race starter and in his careful english, he lets us know where to stand so we wont get hurt and what to expect. How lucky are we! We are the only women here and are careful to be inconspicuous, both as women and tourists.
A man in a white dishdash offers us hot coffee with cardamon and pours this into tiny porcelin cups edged with silver. Delicious. Vibrant colours abound in this extraordinary scene as the camels line up with tiny electronic jockeys perched at the rear of the saddle. Nationals everywhere are in their white dishdashes, and every man is wearing the head gear distinctive to his country. Oddly, the grand stand is some 100m from the finish line, with an expanse of green grass between.
The start line has cloth at the camels' eye level to be lifted as the race starts. Each camel has a trainer standing in front. These fearless men scatter to the side line when the race starts.
We are invited into the breakfast tent by one of the officials and served more coffee, and sandwiches. The tent is beautifully set up with large elegant chairs upholstered in dark red and silver.
We watch the beginning of one more race then our generous self-appointed guide lets us know where we can see baby camels close by. We head off following his directions and come across a sea of camel holding pens, bedouin tents and thousands upon thousands of camels. Camels of all shapes, colours and sizes. This is the main trading area associated with the races. We marvel at these creatures and take photos when we can bear to take our eyes off these animals and this extraordinary scene. April shows me how to look at the camels eyes and mouth to see its distinctive character.
One man beckons April and opens up a pen with twin chocolate brown young camels. Of course I take a photo. We see another milking a nursing camel. He comes over to us and offers us the bowl of fresh, foamy warm camel milk. Oh my god, what will this taste like? I fear the worst, some strong foul taste. I watch April courageously take a sip from the bowl. She lives! My turn. I sip. The taste of the warm foamy milk is delicate, similar to light fragile coconut milk. Delicious How extraordinary.
We stop the car and look again at where we have been, knowing this scene will disappear in a day leaving an expanse of empty desert.
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