Milking a Camel

One of the first families I was introduced to in this village owns camels. Eleven of them: one male, ten female. I didn’t hide my excitement, and I soon found myself making daily trips to their backyard, just to watch the camels.
Within a week, I earned the right to ride a camel. After a shaky mount, I found myself wobbling unsteadily, trying to find a comfortable position but failing. At the father's insistence, I accepted his dare, and found myself standing on the camel, feet balanced directly over the camel's hump. I never found a rhythm on the camel, but it was an adrenaline rush, and I laughed the entire ride.
A few days later, I earned the right to milk a camel. The only past experience I'd had was milking a cow from fourth-grade summer camp, and all I remembered learning was to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. So, hesitantly, I grabbed the silver pail from my laughing neighbor. Their whole family gathered around to watch the clumsy foreigner milk the most valued animal in Bedouin culture. I ducked my head under the camel, balanced the pail under a nipple, and tentatively squeezed with my entire palm. Nothing. Squeezed again. Nothing. I shouted, in Arabic, to my amused crowd, "No milk! I'm squeezing, but there's no milk!" The only response I got was laughter and "Squeeze Harder!" I did. Suddenly, the camel's rear right leg reacted. It kicked and stomped, and I desperately fell over in an attempt to avoid the dangerous hoof. Not one drop of milk in my pail, and I had only made the camel angry. Two minutes later, having ashamedly succumbed, I watched as the neighbor's son successfully filled 1/2 cup's worth of milk from that same stubborn camel!

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