Riding camels in Monkey Mia was very relaxing. I recall a similar experience long ago, when we were in Emily Gap, near Alice Springs. It was not relaxing. In fact, we had been part of a camel race, which was highly unsettling for all concerned. Those poor camels were not happy pets and they stank, but what did we know of camel whispering back then, I ask you? Nada, zippo, zilch. Now we know! Henk, the owner of seven well-groomed, beautiful beasts, took us for a guided glide more than a ride. He walked backwards most of the way down the beach on Shark Bay, continuing with his nonstop commentary on all things bactrian. Not dromedarian, as I had originally assumed. As a self proclaimed camel whisperer from the tender young age of 6 years old, Henk was quite a colourful character and, by golly, he loved his camels! Fed them carrot slices from his lips to theirs, he did. Caught that all on video. I'm not sure what kind of female companionship ol' Henk is used to these days, as you have to wonder who'd pucker up to him after that kind of daily stunt, but he sure has a great relationship with his camels. They were very clean, cuddly beasts and didn't have any bad odor to speak of, unlike my memories of the ones, say, at Edmonton's Valley Zoo. Nor did they spit. Apparently, camels cannot. They froth and groan, grin widely with portruding bottom chompers, and are indeed fond of carrots. But spit? Henk says it is not possible. Who could argue with a man with such clearly defined passions? At the end of the ride, we all agreed that it had been a most entertaining, informative experience. What's more, Gina's 16th birthday wish had come true; she got her camel ride down a remote Australian beach, with her pal. Have I mentioned Alex? We have been enjoying a three week visit from one of Gina's schoolmates from Edmonton. Teens need other teens, a fact that we had failed to factor into our exchange arrangements. Luckily, Alex Sokol's parents are broadminded and deep of pocket, so here she is. New to camping, she is now an expert at setting up and taking down at least one kind of tent. It has been a pleasure having her along
on our travels, willing to try all new experiences with Gina. Erin has also been quite wonderful to have along. All three girls have been very fine company, indeed.