At the Casa Grande trading post and museum in Cerrillos, New Mexico, there is also a small petting zoo for the kids. There were, this morning, some fowl and goats in the locked pens, and, oddly, a solitary camel. The last Scotttreks camel experience was in a Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic airport smoking room, and that camel was ceramic and painted with smoking advertisements.

Camels, it appears, were big in the Southwest United States in the mid 1800’s when the United States Army created a Camel Corp and experimented with the animals, using them to pack goods as Army soldiers patrolled and kept order in the western territories before they became states. The camels were well suited to their task, and the landscape, but the experiment was shelved and the camels were sold off.

You can buy a camel today for a little more than $5000.00 but you need to know a few things about them before taking one home. Camels need space, exercise, lots of hay, and they are not always friendly. From people who own camels come reports that the large animals can show love, hate, be jealous, be warm and caring, fierce and dangerous. They can drink up to 20 gallons of water at a time and eat grass, hay, wheat and oats, seeds or dried twigs in the wild. Water is stored in their bloodstream, not their hump, and the hump, one or two, is stored fat the animal uses as a food supply when food is scarce. Camels can sleep standing up, spit when aggravated, and pee on their legs to keep themselves cool. There are claims that their milk will cure diabetes, TB, autism and AIDS, and, in the desert, they are used for transportation and even food by the Bedouins who depend on them in their nomadic lifestyle.

I’m wondering, this morning, if kids are really allowed to approach this camel, hoping that it is one of the sweet, gentle, lovable cartoon kind of camels that children love to get close too. I can imagine it’s caretakers and owners climbing aboard and taking a midnight ride down one of the arroyos that run through Cerrillos, scaring the devil out of the coyotes howling a mournful song on a moonlit night.

When Scotttreks goes on the road, there is never a moment when something quirky doesn’t pop up and bite you on the behind.

While I’m standing here, the camel doesn’t drop what it is doing and come over to see who I am, and what I want.

That, I’m feeling, gives me a pretty good idea that he’s not as interested in me, as I am in him. 

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