When people vacation, they often do things that they wouldn’t consider doing at home. However, neither Jerry nor I are very athletic, and snorkeling, bungee-jumping, parasailing, shooting rapids, mountain-climbing, dolphin-riding and things like that have never entered our minds, either at home or away.
For vacations, we have always liked the more wimpy things – a cruise, a chalet overlooking Lake Tahoe, a stay in the old Miyako Hotel in SF with a traditional Japanese bathtub and things like that. In Hawaii I don’t believe we even put on swim suits, but we did have pupus and sunset cocktails at a friend’s apartment at Diamond Head. These may sound like boring vacations to you, but we have always mightily enjoyed ourselves.
However, this recent project of mine – that of digitizing all our slides – has caused me to remember the few times that we did something out of the ordinary and have the pictures to prove it. Although not exactly “athletic” endeavors, we experienced some things less wimpy – and certainly for both of us, have done things we are not likely to ever do again.
What have we done? We have ridden horses, camels and asses.
In 1980 we took a tour to Egypt, Jordan and Israel. It was there, going from our hotel in Giza out to the Pyramids that Jerry and a dirty but easy-going camel became friends. Actually, we each rode a camel, and unfortunately our camels weren’t exactly in sync and the photo I got of him was a cross between his camel lurching one direction and mine lurching another. His photo is terribly out of focus, but if you look carefully you can see Jerry and if you look very, very carefully, you can see the whites of Jerry’s eyes. He had never ridden on any kind of a beast before, and it took him a while to get his adrenalin under control!
Later in Jordan, Jerry had his first-ever (and last-ever) horseback ride. Our whole tour group rode horses to get to Petra. He wasn’t sure this is what he wanted to do and he really had no idea where he was going to end up. Heading off like the Lone Ranger into a crack between two sheer walls wasn’t his idea of fun. However, if he had any fears he didn’t show them, except his calling me “Tonto” might have been a cover for his nervousness. For those of you who have been to Petra, you know that your reward for such bravery is a never-to-be forgotten sight. For the record, note that he himself acted as my "pack horse," always carrying my camera equipment!
My own experiences with the animals had been a little different. I’d had lots of horseback riding trips when I was in a Girl Scout troop during the 1945-1950 period of my life. We always had an adult with us when we went to the stables along the old dry Los Angeles River in Long Beach, but we pretty much knew how to handle that horse ourselves. During the summers when I was in college I served as a counselor at a camp in Big Bear and we took the young campers horseback riding at least once during their week-long stay. So horses didn’t bother me.
But my first jaunt on a small ass was when Jerry and I signed up for a land tour in Haiti on our honeymoon, which was to take us up a mountain trail to an old fortress at the top. My little mode of transportation was used to walking on a 3 foot wide trail up the hill. I was not. I had to put my shakey trust in his sure feet and also hope the young fellow walking on the side nearest the cliff and who had the the reins in his hand to catch me if my little beast stumbled and fell. I remember feeling an accelerated heart beat for a while, but we made it up and down safely. It still was a fairly traumatic event, and I have no recollection of Jerry being with me at all; he could have stayed down on the flatland for all I remember. I think the memory loss is a sign of just how nervous I was.
The proof of our "athletic" tales is in the photographs. I must admit we still prefer wimpy vacations. Even travelling in a big RV is out. We like soft mattresses and hot water and permanent toilets and nice restaurants. No horses or camels or asses for entertainment. But it does please me to say that yep, we did it once!