Callum the Camel: the Dromedary of the Draa
Hello. My name is Callum the Camel and I am from Morocco in the north of Africa. Full disclosure – I am not a camel because they have two humps, I am a dromedary but humans are very bad at names. They call me a camel and it’s stuck. I don’t mind too much since some of my best mates are camels, and after all what is a hump between friends?
This year has been the hardest but the best year of my life, let me tell you why.
I was just lolloping along as usual, part of the herd, nothing special. My job was to carry tourists and all their bags on camping trips into the desert for a few days. We would go out in a group of about twenty and walk for a little while then set up camp and relax before going home to our nice comfy field in the plains with plenty of delicious thorny acacias to snack on and warm sand to roll in for a good back scratch. It was, to be honest, a pretty cushy number.
But I think I went a bit over the top of on the delicious thorny acacia trees and that was my downfall. Brahim, our human, was putting together a team for an Alice Morrison Expedition. I had heard of this Explorer. She was a nutter, always running up mountains and cycling across continents and I didn’t fancy that at all. I tried to hide right at the back but he spotted me, “Callum, look how lovely and big you are. You’re exactly what we need for three long, tough months across the desert. You’ll be able to carry all the heaviest equipment, and you can live off all that fat when we run out of food.”
3 months? Run out of food? Tough? Heavy? This was not sounding good, but we camels have to earn our crust, so off I set. Alice was aiming to become the first woman ever to walk the whole length of the Draa River Valley in Morocco – 1500km (nearly 1000 miles). Every day, we’d get up before sunrise, get loaded and walk for around five to six hours till we stopped at camp for the night. Before we started, Brahim gave us a team talk, “Now, camels, this will be difficult, you will want to give up, but we are a team and if you just keep walking, if you persevere, you’ll be the first camels ever to walk the length of the Draa. You’ll make history, imagine that.”
It was very hard. The sun was boiling hot, nearly 50 degrees, and the ground under my soft hoof pads was often sharp and rocky. One day, I stepped on a big thorn about the length of a pen and Brahim had to pull it out. I won’t repeat the very bad swear words I said. It hurt a lot.
We were walking through the desert and often it would be three days before we could drink. Now, we camels pride ourselves on not having to drink every day but that is a long time, and I was always so happy when Alice and Brahim got water from the well and poured it out for us. I liked shaking my head with all the water in my mouth and giving them a little shower to say thank you.
The worst part, though, was when we got to the wilderness. Because there had been no rain for a long, long time we had nothing to eat. My stomach rumbled and grumbled as I waited for our one meal a day of oats. Alice tried to help. She always saved her orange peel for me and gave me some of her biscuits at tea break. She ate oats too, but hers were a weird human type called porridge. Fortunately, I had my nice fat hump and I could use that to give me energy.
The months passed and I kept going. Sometimes I sang (I sound a bit like Harry Styles), sometimes I played fantasy football, sometimes I told Alice jokes although she never seemed to get them and sometimes, I looked around me at all these new places I was passing and felt amazed. Mainly though, I just persevered, kept on walking even when I was tired and hungry, and we still had a long way to go.
Then, all of a sudden, the air got cool and I saw birds for the first time in months. Ahead of me there was something big and blue with white tops that made a kind of roaring noise. Alice started whooping and running around. “Thanks be to God,” said Brahim. “We have reached the sea.” He led us into this big, moving mass of water and I felt a new feeling. I felt proud. I had made it across 1500km and I had become the first camel ever to walk the Draa River Valley in Morocco.
“Callum, you are a hero,” said Alice, “You have done what no camel has done before and now your name will be written in the history books – Courageous Callum, Dromedary of the Draa.”
Voice of Alice Morrison
Alice Morrison is a Scottish Adventurer based in Morocco. She is the presenter of the BBC2 Series Morocco to Timbuktu: An Arabian Adventure. She has undertaken some tough, physical and mental challenges including: The Tour D’Afrique, cycling from Cairo to Cape Town; running round Everest; and the Marathon des Sables, the toughest footrace on earth; She has just completed a 4000km exploration on foot of Morocco from the Mediterranean Sea to the Mauritanian with her six camels when she found dinosaur footprints and a lost city and investigated the space ships of the desert. She speaks fluent Arabic and French and 20 words of lots of different languages. “Everyone has an inner Adventurer in them, let yours out!” is her mantra.
Favourite book right now? The Home Going, by Yaa Gyasi
Favourite lesson at school? English
Favourite animal/lifeform? Camels! (and cats)
Favourite hero/heroine? Freya Stark