Camel “Farm”

This is a guest post written by my outstanding (and oh so patient) husband. He was personally invited by one of his high school students to visit the family’s Bedouin style camel farm in the desert of the Arabian Peninsula.

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The time finally came, I جيمس والدو (James Waldo) was invited to be the guest of one of my students at his camel farm. To get the idea of what the camel farm is like, first you must forget everything you know about the word “farm”. There is simply not a better English translation for the “camel farm”. Imagine desert with a fence around it, now you have a camel farm. One of my students invited me and several of his classmates, only one of whom speaks English well enough to have a conversation with, for an evening.

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When the food arrives, everyone scooted in closer

My Arabic عربي (arabi) is coming along slowly شوي شوي (sh-way sh-way), but I could not have successfully complete the evening without my friend صديقي (saa-dee-kee) translating for me. It was very interesting to be able to sit and talk with someone for over four hours despite language barriers. We discussed camel racing, American bias against the Arab people, politics, history, camel racing, teaching each other vocabulary from our language, Islam, Christianity, and did I mention camel racing?

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A great picture of a mejalis. Notice the short table in the center for tea, coffee, and fruit.

That evening, I was able to witness and experience true Arab hospitality. The kind of hospitality I’ve only heard about, until now. The family slaughtered a sheep for our dinner, gave a tour of the facilities complete, provided full bios on each of the camels, and served and treated me as if I were royalty. I felt comfortable and at home with these men. Their stories entertained me for hours (literally). I was also able to feed and ride a camel بوش (bush).

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Showing James how to saddle up

اب سعيدAbu Saeed (Father of Saeed) was a most welcoming host. He personally served me fruit continually. I was told that this honored him to be able to serve his son’s teacher. The more he honored me, the more honors that are bestowed upon him. Each question that I was able to imagine and ask, demonstrated to him that I cared and was interested in him and his life. This in turn, brought honor to Abu Saeed. On several occasions, he apologized that they could not do more and give me what I deserved, and that he was so honored to have me in his home. My response was, of course, “You have honored me so much tonight and given me much more than I deserve. It is truly I who am honored tonight to be the guest of such a generous host.”

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The trick is to not fall off as the camel stands up.

I was amazed at how differently my students acted and responded in this environment. My students were overly polite and almost fighting for the chance to serve others coffee قهوة (gouwa) or tea شاي (shay). I was told that this was now my farm and I was welcome any time that I wanted to come. I hope إن شاء الله (Inshallah) {translation=if it is in God’s will} to visit again.

Written by:  Abu JT اب جت (Father of JT)

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