Gonzo Mike O'Leary is spending his retirement time as a school teacher in Doha

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Greetings all! I trust the traction under foot is in your favor.

This is a little episode that I encountered today while out mountain/dune biking in the nearby desert of Doha, Qatar.

We, Saad Ferzam (Iranian/Canadian), Douglas Thompson (BC) and I were on our weekly bike ride and came across a Bedouin Camp (somewhat like our indigenous Indians). We had stopped to admire a bunch of camels that were sauntering around and occasionally rolling in the sand for a little back rub. A pick-up truck was approaching us.

Arabs are very friendly and the owner invited us to their camp for tea. As they rode and we biked the short distance to the Bedouin tent, we figured we had nothing to worry about.

In any typical Bedouin Camp or residential villa in the Middle East, there is a specific room called a majlis, where people gather for conversation and tea. I could have easily fallen asleep amongst the comfortable carpets and thick sleep inducing pillows in the majlis. You couldn't believe how comfortable, peaceful and relaxing this room was.

We were lucky as Saad, who grew up in Iran, spoke Arabic. We had a most interesting and entertaining conversation, including tea, yogurt and camel milk. I had mentioned I used to drink camel milk in Abu Dhabi and could not find any here in Doha. Camel milk, by-the-way is very low in fat and very tasty. Not to be outdone by the UAE and Abu Dhabi, our host summoned one of his employees to milk a camel and bring me some.

Well, the camel milk was extremely tasty in spite of being minutes old and still at body temperature.

Then, we had a coffee followed with a few dates and I took some pictures. Our host offered for me to take a ride on the camel that contributed to quench my thirst and add to my nutrition. I must say, my mountain bike is more comfortable than that camel. However, the camel is a 4X4 with all wheel drive.

Since they had just slaughtered a goat, he also offered us some. My buddy Douglas took him up on his offer and is probably home eating it at this moment.

My two buddies, who have been here for a number of years, went away saying this was typical of the Bedouin hospitality, were tickled pink to be treated so nicely and surely was a highlight for them.

In return for being treated so nicely; I will take my d-cam and run off a few pictures then make a special trip back out to the desert to drop them off.

You know what, there is still a lot to be said about people taking the effort to become friends.