Here & there: Back-to-school camel bite

Columnist Kat Dayton's sons become acquainted with a camel in Tangiers, Morocco, April 2014 | Photo by Kat Dayton, St. George News

FEATURE — I’ve got three words for you: back to school. In my house, that means a run on No. 2 pencils, wide-ruled composition notebooks, glue sticks, dry erase markers for the classroom, new shoes, new socks and a distinctly more structured schedule. It also means homework.

Tangiers, Morocco, April 2014 | Photo by Kat Dayton, St. George News
Tangiers, Morocco, April 2014 | Photo by Kat Dayton, St. George News

One of the first assignments that came home for my kindergartner this year was a spotlight poster. You know that oversized rectangle of card stock you are supposed to fill with things that communicate your child’s essence to the teacher and class? No pressure.

I had ideas about what should go on the poster — and so did my kindergartner. He wanted a list of things he likes and a list of things he does not like. I immediately felt anxious. This boy has opinions that rival any grumpy old man, and I wasn’t sure it was the best idea to throw out a complete catalog of preferences the first week of school.

But he persisted, and I took notes. The things he does not like: chocolate, kisses and church. But especially church. The things he likes: hugs, salad, fancy cheeses, tennis, animals, privacy and family travel.

Pleased that family travel made the list and relieved that the likes outnumbered the dislikes, I went to close the computer. But he wasn’t done. He also demanded we feature his significant injuries to date on the poster as well. He knew exactly what to include: the nine stitches from a header into the bathroom sink, a broken left arm from a fall off the monkey bars and the camel bite on the crown of his head that one time in Morocco.

Tangiers, Morocco, April 2014 | Photo by Kat Dayton, St. George News
Columnist Kat Dayton’s 4-year-old examines the undercarriage of a camel in Tangiers, Morocco, April 2014 | Photo by Kat Dayton, St. George News

Yes, he said camel bite. Let me explain a few things to put the bite in perspective. First, his dad and I were right there. Second, the bite didn’t break the skin or draw blood so the “significant injury” designation is generous. Third, camels are notoriously feisty and, for the record, don’t take too kindly to little boys taking a gander at their “undercarriage.” And finally, we were in Tangiers.

My family of five found ourselves in the North African port city of Tangiers for a single day as part of a broader trip to Southern Spain in April 2014. Something about visiting another continent and witnessing the meeting point of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea lured us onto the 90-minute boat ride across the Strait of Gibraltar.

Like other port cities, Tangiers is electric and a little dirty. Picture Times Square of the 90s but without all of the neon lights and western fashion. Commodities and people pass in and out of Tangiers day and night. Hustlers roam the winding, nameless streets where local boys play marbles around the uneven cobblestones and roughly hewn storm drains.

We hired a tour guide named Aziz to help us navigate the city. With Aziz, we got the history of this once-illustrious mecca to the rich by car and stops at local rug and tea shops by foot. We ate meat off the bone and sweet dates at a Moroccan-style feast, and we got a private camel ride on the shores of the Atlantic.

My kindergartner was only 4 when he rode atop a camel with his dad in that port city of Africa, but he still remembers it. I give most of the credit to the camel and its bite. Thanks to that camel bite, not only does my little boy remember that he visited somewhere incredible, he also has an exotic injury to include on his Kindergarten spotlight poster and something that, hopefully, tempers the fact that he dislikes chocolate, kisses and church.

Kat Dayton is a developing columnist with St. George News.

Ed. note 12:20 p.m.: Columnist correction made – her son was 4 when they made their trip to Africa, not 3 as stated in first version published.

A camel and her calf in Tangiers, Morocco, April 2014 | Photo by Kat Dayton, St. George News
A camel and her calf in Tangiers, Morocco, April 2014 | Photo by Kat Dayton, St. George News

 

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Email: katdayton@gmail.com | news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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1 Comment

  • Dexter September 20, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    I think it’s a case of bad cameling

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