Don’t try to tell me that camels can’t talk to one another.
I’ve just returned from a trip to Colonel Gadaffi’s Libya, having disregarded warnings before I left that it was a dangerous country and I would have to be on my guard.
But it wasn’t the Colonel’s secret police, the army, or street muggers that sent me running – it was an angry camel!
I was crossing a desert east of Tripoli when I saw a group of camels that I thought might make a good picture. Not that groups of camels make particular good pictures but I never believe in turning down the chance to take a photo that I might regret later. So I jumped out of the car and used a wide angle lens, perhaps 3m from the camels, planning to move further back and take some shots with a telephoto lens afterwards.
The leader of the pack clearly took exception to my presence, turned to his furry tribe and emitted an ear-splitting bellow. I am now convinced that this was camel talk for: ‘This guy is taking pictures without permission. We’ve had a chat about these meddling tourists before. All of you take off and I’ll teach him a thing or two.’
With that, the rest of the group, including a number of infants, began scampering away – while the leader came lumbering towards me, hollering (in camel-speak): ‘Right, you’re for it now’.
I managed to take one picture while he was almost on top of me, then turned and ran for my life back to the car.
Looking at the picture later I was quite pleased with the effect – the close-up of the angry leader and the others dashing off in the background. I was also ‘quite pleased’ that I’d got out of there with all my limbs attached.
As for the rest of the Libyan population, I found them to be kind and non-threatening to the point that, smitten by hunger pains at 1am, I was able to leave my hotel and walk through some very dark back streets to an all-night take-away pizza joint and return without so much as a glance in my direction.
Perhaps the locals were aware that messing with a tourist would result in a fate worse than death…such as being dumped among a group of angry camels in the desert.
* See the Gallery for more pictures of Libya.