The arid desert locale and spotless white sand beaches in Mexico's Baja peninsula seemed a natural setting for a camel ride.
If the camel enterprise seems unusual for this country, it's become something of a trend in various Mexican resort areas. A tourist company operates this particular outing from Cabo, taking guests by truck north to Rancho San Cristóbal. There about a dozen well-behaved, pampered camels take turns offering small group rides. I say pampered because the animals are beautiful and obviously well-cared for. Our chatty guide ("call me Marco," with a joke about Marco Polo) is irrepressible.
My Texas cameleer friend Doug Baum was involved with a partner, Sidi Omar, in originally bringing these camels to Cabo and training them with their new handlers. That was some six or seven years ago with a fair amount of turnover among handlers since. Doug also goes on training and saddle support missions to Cancún, for instance.
First we get to do the third-party photography. Taking your own photographs while riding is a no-no, simply because they want both your hands clamped on the safety grip. Good thing they'd never seen me in the Middle East. They encourage the camel-kissing trick and the sharing a bite to eat trick. Camel has a piece of jicama in his mouth and waits for me to chew on the other end. Ugh. Pineapple would have been nicer!
No surprise that a waiver is required; this is North America, after all, where most camel ranches would require the same. (I wanted to say shades of Bellingham, Washington, where we indeed had the waiver but none of the follow-up safety issues). Therefore must don the accompanying helmet with something intended to resemble an Arab headdress attached to it. Goofy-looking, but can't escape it or the emphasis on safety. And disappointing: we mount the standing camels. No fun in that, especially with the two-seater saddles. Hoping my Oman camel T-shirt impresses them, I successfully convince them that I am riding on my own.
Once in the saddle, a very pleasant ride commenced. Through the cactus-strewn landscape to a small tidal pool, then back along an endless, pristine, uninhabited beach. Glorious, really (but hating the headgear ‒ sorry/not sorry). Then a walk through the desert flora with a guide. Finally we were taken to view the collection of rapidly developed print or digital photographs.
A very tasty Mexican lunch followed. A woman was kept busy cooking the corn tortillas for us to gorge on cheese tacos, beef molé, beans, spareribs, rice, and Dos Equis beer. I'm sure I took photos of the invitingly arrayed tequila shots but after a few samples I must have misplaced my touristy sense.
Olé ... a very safe venture.
© 2018 Brenda Dougall Merriman