Riding Camels in Sharm el-Sheikh: What I Learned From a Bedouin Boy in the Egyptian Desert by Sheri B Doyle

2 years ago

Riding Camels in Sharm el-Sheikh: What I Learned From a Bedouin Boy in the Egyptian Desert

While visiting Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, it is assumed that at some point during your visit you will ride a camel in the desert. Giving into the expectation, with much trepidation, I jumped into a van and headed out to the desert with my husband and friend. The ride out to the meeting place was a little unnerving to be honest. We had no idea where we were going, who we were meeting or what was going to happen. Yet here we were in the blazing Egyptian sun, riding through a completely empty desert. The sandy hills were quite spectacular, gently sloping up and down along the endless desert.

Arriving at the location to meet our guides and camels, two boys waited for us – one 14 and one 10 – each standing with two camels. I looked around trying to find the adult, but there was none. Left alone in the desert with these two boys we had no choice but to follow their directions and them. As it turns out they were quite good at telling us how to mount and ride the camels. I hated being on the camel and promptly decreed I was throwing in the towel and would walk.

The youngest boy had captured my attention as he roamed the desert with no shoes on, climbing up the backs of the camels and walking through the sand. He spoke to us in close-to-perfect English, so as we walked I began to talk to him. He had lived his life as a Bedouin, moving around through the desert with his family his entire life. He spoke 10 languages fluently, yet had never attended school. He had never worn a pair of shoes in his life, never lived in anything but a tent or under the sky. He and his 14-year-old brother ran their camel riding business as a way to help earn money for the family. During our ride they also had jewelry they tried to sell us that they made when they were not giving camel rides. 

After my shock at what this young boy knew, experienced and did, without a day of school or a pair of shoes, I saw how happy he was, how in tune with nature and people he was. I had to wonder if maybe our kids wouldn’t be a little better off with more exposure to independence. After tea at his family’s Bedouin camp we hopped into the van to ride back through the desert while the sun set. I knew I would never forget this little boy nor the lesson I had learned about how little it takes to truly be happy.

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Amazing story!
Elisa Schmitz
Holy smokes. Your adventures always leave me breathless, Sheri B Doyle !
Julie Rose
This is beautiful. ❤️
Nan Chul Shin
Would love to go to Egypt someday.

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