Friday, December 9, 2011

A reason to wake up early...

This week was a long one as I chased down students who did not submit their very important ECART and waited for the exams to be completed so I could grade them. It was a lot of hurry up and wait, but at this point, I think I have entered the grades correctly in the gradebook that no one really explained. Yeah.

On the home front, we've been researching vehicles to purchase since the payments will be cheaper than our monthly rental. Rob's narrowed it down to about six cars, which is good because I was completely overwhelmed by the task. Belle is going to her first rugby tournament tomorrow (she's going to support her "team" as she is not quite ready to play yet). Then after, we are going to the tree lighting at the Danat (or the Hilton) to see Santa. We can't forgo some traditions.

This morning, I woke Belle up at 5:30am and we both stumbled to La Brioche (which was not open when we arrived) to meet up with a group of international expatriates to see the camel races. I've been to races before (in college, I worked as a mutuels teller for a dog track and we telecast horse races; I'd attend the horse races at the fair in Rochester, and of course, the car races in Loudon), and they all had certain similar aspects: like wagering and alcohol. Not so, in a Muslim country.

Camel racing takes place on a dirt track (like a horse track). The camels have robot jockeys that the owners control via remote, and some have speakers so that the owner can speak to the camel as it runs. In addition, the camels have been trained to recognize the owner's vehicle horn and this is used to communicate to the camel as it races around the 5K or 4K track. This is done by the owner racing alongside the track in his Land Rover (and yes, all the owners were male). He may or may not have spectators in his vehicle. The owner concentrates on the camel and the remote, so spectators need to be extremely careful because while the owner is driving his vehicle, he is not concerned with people on foot or in other cars. So essentially, two races occur - the camels and the owners' in their SUVs.

While we were there, we saw 6 year old camels race 5K, and then they moved up the starting gate, creating a 4K track. It allowed us to walk along and get close ups of the robot jockeys and see LOTS of camels close up. They were incredible. It was an experience not to be missed and made getting up early on a weekend day worth it. And yes, it was a bit chilly this morning (you know, like 60's), so we wore sweaters and long sleeves.

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