Thursday, 17 September 2015

Can you speak camel?

It's amazing what you find out when you write a novel! While researching the background and setting of my historical romance THE LION'S EMBRACE, I came across fascinating material about North Africa - enchanting Tuareg poems and legends, accounts of expeditions in the Sahara, beautiful photos of the most breathtaking scenery...and this fabulous snippet of information about camels, taken from the anthology 'Contes et L├ęgendes du Niger' by Pierre-Marie Decoudras and Laurence Rivaille and published by Karthala, Paris.
Why was I so interested in camels? Because much of the story is set in Southern Algeria where my hero Lucas Saintclair takes the heroine Harriet Montague in the hope of finding her missing father. On the way, they encounter danger and treason, adventure and passion - it is a romance after all! They also hook up with a Tuareg tribe to travel to Tamanrasset, and Harriet gets to find out a little about the nomads' way of life.

Image courtesy of Photokanok at
Camels aren't only essential to local tribes as a means of transport. They are also companions and 'an inexhaustible source of information'[1]. Not only do they know where to find pastures and water holes, but they also warn their owners of dangers and trouble ahead. Some nomads even claim that their camel can talk!

Here are a few examples recorded by the authors. When a camel walks around the campsite several times at dawn then kneels down in front of its master's tent and grunts, it is warning about unwelcome visitors. When it stands looking to the East sniffing the air for several hours, it announces a storm. And if a camel refuses to stand up whilst being harnessed, it's a sign that its owner shouldn't travel that day, but stay in his tent and drink tea.

I completely empathise with that camel. I often feel like that in the morning too!



[1] 'Contes et L├ęgendes du Niger', Pierre-Marie Decoudras et Laurence Rivaille, Editions Karthala, Paris


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