Stay On Target: Get Back on the Camel

Watching Karl Pilkington slog through the Seven Wonders of the World on Ricky Gervais’ An Idiot Abroad made me laugh, cry and come to terms with my recent journey struggles. Karl showed what real travel is like: travel without the luxury of Abercrombie and Kent. He showed what happens when it all falls apart but you have to keep going because the show is counting on you. As I continue to scan film whenever the year’s busy schedule permits, I have to admit that I was only able to snap a single shot while overnighting in the Sahara Desert. Why? I was suffering from heatstroke in the 55 degree Celsius temperatures, and despite my best efforts I projectile vomited the contents of my poor stomach thrice once dismounting the camel. I was half way between camp and the lodging, and I could barely stand up. Frankly, it was terrifying to be in the beginning of a dust storm, knowing how sick I must be to get so ill on a camel, and then needing to get back on the same camel to ride the rest of the way. I could not walk out. I could not walk in. I could barely stand up, but I had to get back on the camel.

That is the part of adventure travel that makes it so hard to do year in, year out. Certainly, braver souls could claim that my travel is not as rough as theirs because I usually hire GAP Adventures to tour with, but the reality is that both V. and I tend to use them just to get us from A to B while we walk outside the rest of the groups comfort zone. The tour allows us to be a little more stupid and take a few more chances that we could never dream of taking alone. Still…the body loses out in the extreme temperatures and the substandard hygiene, and I always miss out on something. In this case it was the Sahara Desert.

Volublis was another dead moment. I loved walking around in this Roman ruin. There were no other tourists in sight and it was a heaven for getting a feel for the ghosts that must haunt these stone arches at night. At the same time, it was 55 to 60 degrees on the hilltop and shade was non-existent. None of these photos really turned out because the light was terrible. Give me a moody, rainy day and I could shoot horror movie posters. Nothing. But. Sun.

These three photographs needed serious Photoshop/SilverFX Pro 2 attention to make them salvageable even as snapshots. Not every shot can be a winner, and with film, you have no way to chimp the shots to make sure you have a great exposure. Do these capture how I saw these magical places? Yes. Do I wish I could go back in time and deal with the heat in a different way? No. I did what the adventure required of me, and these are the best that I could do in those conditions; these shots mean more because they were taken under inhospitable circumstances and not in an air-conditioned Jeep en route to the safari tent or polo club. Hmmm, a safari tent with refreshments after a long day of being taken to perfect photographic opportunities does sound nice at this point though…maybe I need some Oberoi time in India to get my travelling feet back on.


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