May 19, 2009

Umm Sayhun, Jordan

Large Camel, Small Truck

I wanted to speak for just a moment on the scale of camels. Simply put, they're massive.

I think most folks don't realize just how large a camel really is. I'm not a petite fellow, and the camels in use around Petra utterly tower above me. I'm generally lucky to come up to the base of their tails.

The average fully grown Arabian camel stands 6ft 1in (1.85m) at the shoulder and 7ft 1in (2.15m) at the hump. The hump rises about 30 inches out of its body.

Camels can run at up to 40 mph in short bursts and sustain speeds of up to 25 mph. Most have a life expectancy of approximately 40 to 50 years.

While researching the misbaha (a string of prayer beads that come in sets of 33 or 99) that I've seen some of the Bedouin men and women carrying around with them, I happened upon this quote in a photo caption:

Muslims believe that there are 99 known names for Allah, which are contemplated while carrying the beads. As the myth goes, only the camel knows the 100th name, and for this reason he is always smiling.

Bedouin Camels with Saddles: Like almost all the other camels in Petra, these animals aren't used for rides as much as they are for tourists posing on (or with) them for photos.

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