Visiting Taif. You drive up mountain roads. And it seems the bus was slow. And there is a zoo which was on the list of activities and places to visit. I had a camel encounter. Friendly, I’ve heard they can be temperamental. But the zoo camel was friendly. The elephants sprayed water at you. Fortunately, I watched as a couple nurses were set up and drenched. Those elephants are smart.
The group but their banner across the front of the bus. Nice touch. About 30 minutes later the bus overheated. The driver stopped, pulled his cellphone, and called the hospital for help. No A/C, it was getting hot on the bus! Light bulb! Yeah, you guessed. That darn banner cut off air flow to the engine. We removed it and were on our way in 10 minutes. Saved! Yes, I did save the day on that one. Did I tell you I know a little bit about lots of things…
I was fortunate to be a favorite with the nurses. I’m nice to them. They are nice back. It makes life so much easier. I learned to be nice and polite as an intern. Nurses, otherwise, could make life hell. When I rotated onto my pediatric neurosurgery rotation the night nurses were nice enough to have a going away party for me. They didn’t wake me for the party. They wanted to let me sleep. Imagine that!
In Jeddah the nurses invited me on a field trip. A few husbands… and me – they insisted I ride in the front of the bus. So far this is my only field trip though they threaten to organize another. For sure they have a sense of humor. And they like to live large.
One nurse was ecstatic to ride a camel. “It was something I promised myself before the age of thirty.” My kids rode a camel in the Bronx Zoo when they were small. So far I’m waiting for my first ride…not.
You don’t get many opportunities to shoot the local people. At this tourist stop it’s part of the deal. So I took the shot. It gets tricky as the light gets low. But on a gut level, you know when you like a shot. I could post process and crop and … but I just like it as is.
They had a toboggan ride. About eighteen of the nurses signed up and bought tickets. I tried to ride last car for the photo ops. Everyone rushed to the last cars so I ended up in the very first car. It’s a good thing. The individual cars have hand brakes. I reasoned that the cars were stable enough that they couldn’t fly off the track even if the brakes were never applied. So I didn’t use them. The nurses who followed were much more timid and thereby created a traffic jam.
I love the fractured English. Hey, it’s not their native language. And I appreciate that many signs are written in English. Spelling and translation often leave something to the imagination. It’s nothing to spell incorrectly or to interpret the word in a less than traditional manner. But you get the idea.
They aren’t too photogenic. So the color helps. I apologize for the tree sticking out of his head. We had stopped momentarily. You know. …when everyone is running in four directions and the driver will say, “Get back on the bus,” at any moment. So I was standing and just doing a 360 degree click around with my camera. Later we parked again and I had a longer moment to get another shot of another camel. Anyway the color is for the tourists.
Not to be derogatory, this man was offering camel rides to the passersby. And on this busload of eager nurses I heard one exclaim, “It’s been my dream to ride a camel before I’m thirty.” So I guess this was her lucky day. What can I say? When the light is right shoot away. I could have used some fill flash and maybe composed a bit more off center. But this was a constantly changing target rich photo shoot and I was clicking away as fast as I could go.
I was busy with the camels at this roadside stop. So it was a non-sequitur to have this car stop me and ask that I photograph them. Not one to be impolite, I did it. It’s just that at that very moment, I was having camera panic. The settings had changed and I couldn’t figure out why every image was not focusing. In the meantime, I’ve got a prime time moment and tried to manual focus on the run. It’s not quite right, but close enough to get the point. It turned out that the manual focus button had been pushed. But to go through the check on the run, it’s always hard.
It’s an interesting group. You just see the ‘troop’ hanging out…literally… a behind the scenes look. They are fed from the roadside. Otherwise there doesn’t seem to be much reason for them to hang by the roadside. I know the argument against feeding the animals and making them dependent on human processed food. It seems that folks are not yet conscientious. Parenthetically, I was surprised when we dove last week and one of the dive masters pleaded for the divers to respect the Red Sea and its coral, which was dying.
This is a whole lot of potatoes…ok maybe some onions. Either way, I don’t really recall that the average Saudi diet is so full of potatoes or of onions. French fries, yes…but I think McD’s brings theirs in from outside. Anyway it got me to thinking about the weight (obesity) problem. The again, I thought who needs so many 50 pound bags of potatoes. I’m telling you that this was a big warehouse and all the bags were stacked with potatoes… lots of potatoes.
Even in the fruit market, things can get a little crazy. They have men with carts who will move sacks of purchased produce. Two guys were fighting. I wasn’t sure who was crazy. But it appears that the big guy took the head scarf from the little guy and was teasing him. Security arrived and separated the two men before real trouble occurred.
“You touched a camel!!” my daughter exclaimed when I shared this photo. We had searched vainly for a camel to photograph when she visited in March. Yes, Julia. I got right up in its face. Actually, the camels, especially this camel, were quite used to people and did not hesitate to come right to the fence and allow me to touch it. This guy has probably been fed by many visitors in the past. I don’t know… but one could guess. No, he wasn’t smelly, and yes, I used a wipe to wash my hands. One of the nurses was carrying one and pressed it into my hand after the shots.
Sometimes I surprise myself. It’s always a problem at the zoo to get a shot without the distracting cage. I like the juxtaposition of the head and tail, obviously not the same porcupine. Call it coming and going. Otherwise this shot would have been in the discard folder.
We arrived at the zoo. Simon and Garfunkel, it ain’t. It was early and we were the only group, the only people, visiting. It was pretty small and to me, pretty lame. I admit that I did not see this picture first. It was on the internet when I was doing my homework on Taif and it’s sights. Dogs!… from USA! Imagine that??!! They do not like dogs in Saudi Arabia! They are considered unclean. Cats, yes; dogs, no! But there was even a cage with cats. Meanwhile a stray cat wandered by… You’ve got to be kidding me, right?? Please don’t stick your fingers inside.
I was invited to go to Taif. Twenty eight nurses, two husbands, and me. We got to a mountain called Al Hada and were greeted by a tribe of baboons which sit along the roadside and wait to be fed from the passing cars. If you look on google earth there are lots of photos of the area and the baboons.
There’s a difference in taking a picture and looking at one. I don’t think I have taken anything unique, but it is mine. I shot it. And, I was there. That, I guess is all the difference.
We stopped here for about 15 minutes. Most of the nurses were too timid to get off the bus. They were afraid of the wild baboons. I cajoled and some of them got down. We had (at least I did) a great photo op. You could approach so closely that there was no need for a telephoto lens. Earlier at the zoo in Taif we had seen baboons behind two layers of fence. There was no photo op there. But here we were face to face. I just didn’t have the nerve to try and pet one.