3 June 2012, Sunny, hot at 34 degrees Celsius at 16.12.28N, 52.1043E
”5000 dollars is what I want” , said the guy the locals called the King of Camels impatiently; ”If you don´t pay me that sum I won´t help you.”
He played with his far to big gold watch and was generally behaving arrogantly and condensending. He was here to make money out of what I was sure he saw as rich documentary makers and not like everybody else in the room, there to help us. He was one of these guys I have met all over the world who once had nothing and now had a lot of wealth and instead of making him generous and self confident, it had made him, generally speaking, an asshole of magnitude. Yes, you are right, I did not like him. So of course I said, no way and I told him that I instead saw his offer as a sign of disgrace. He left. 5000 dollars was more than double what I had calculated and what I could offer.
We might still do business with him though. After travelling what feels like big distances out into the desert surrounding this rather laid back town visiting different bedu´s, checking their camels, well, there´s just not any good one´s around. First they say that the camels on exhibit for us, are really good. When they see and realize I am quite good with these elegant creatures, they change tack and say they have never done any long distance walking or have carried any amounts of gear on their backs. This fact means it will take us more than a month to train and get these camels in shape.. And since we are very limited where we can travel due to the kidnapping risk, we can maximum travel a month. Sure, in of of the most interesting areas in Yemen, very challenging, but still, it means, that I might do a kind of a loan deal, where I buy the camels and sell to the somebody I know at the end. All this means I might have to deal with this unpleasant character.
We have one extra ordinary good friend here, Mohammed Saaed Mohammed Saleem Solot kel Shaeet. We met him through a helpful Hadrami, Abdul Al Khaled, director of the local Museum, who is a friend af a good friend of mine, who sat us up with him. This is how things work here. You definitely need to know somebody to get anywhere. Mohammed really understands that we are here to help and give a positive image of Al Mahara. He is truly a good human being. As most people here in Al Ghaydah. One thing is for sure, not a lot of international tourists passing through here. People are really curious, but very friendly. For example, two days ago, we went out walking in the Mid Day heat, to get acclimatized, and every second car which passed us stopped and asked what in earth we where doing walking in this heat, and if tehy could help or offer us lunch at their house.
My new Expedition partner Tanya is doing real well. She, like myself, is really knackered after a very hectic start, ut she is basically translating from early morning to late night. With hardly any rest.
Right now we are sitting in an air conditioned room (very noisy), quite clean and waiting for Muhammed to call and see if he did locate the King of Camels to re-start the negotiations again.