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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

The top of the Godar Khorassunih Pass 8


Every

now and then a halt had to be called to give the camels a rest, and the camel men spread their felt overcoats upon the ground and lay down for five or ten minutes to have a sleep. Then the long string of camels would proceed again up the hill, the camels urged by the strange cries and sing-songs of the men.

This part of the journey being mountainous, one came across three little streams of water, and at each the camel man urged me to drink as much as I could, because, he said, the time will come when we shall see no water at all for days at a time.

We were gradually rising, the camels panting dreadfully, and had got up to 7,100 feet when we camped near the village of Kalaoteh--a few small domed hovels, a field or two, and a cluster of trees along a brook. We were still among the Kupayeh Mountains with the Kurus peak towering directly above us.

CHAPTER II

Fifty miles from Kerman--Camels not made for climbing hills--The Godar Khorassunih Pass--Volcanic formation--Sar-es-iap--A variegated mountain--A castle--Rock dwellings--Personal safety--Quaint natives--Women and their ways--Footgear.

On November 6th we were some fifty miles from Kerman. Again when midnight came and I was slumbering hard with the two kittens, who had made themselves cosy on my blankets,

the hoarse grunts of the camels being brought up to take the loads woke me up with a start, and the weird figure of the camel-man stooped over me to say it was time to depart.

"Hrrrr, hrrrr!" spoke the camel-man to each camel, by which the animals understood they must kneel down. The loads were quickly fastened on the saddles, the kittens lazily stretched themselves and yawned as they were removed from their warm nooks, and Sadek in a moment packed up all my bedding on my saddle.

We continued to ascend, much to the evident discomfort of the camels, who were quite unhappy when going up or down hill. It was really ridiculous to see these huge, clumsy brutes quite done up, even on the gentlest incline. The track went up and up in zigzag and curves, the cries of the camel-drivers were constantly urging on the perplexed animals, and the dingle of the smaller bells somewhat enlivened the slow, monotonous ding-dong of the huge cylindrical bell--some two and a half feet high and one foot in diameter--tied to the load of the last camel, and mournfully resounding in the valley down below.

And we swung and swung on the camels' humps, in the beautiful starlight night--the moon had not yet risen--on several occasions going across narrow passages with a drop under us of considerable depth, where one earnestly hoped the quivering legs of the timid camels would not give way or perchance stumble. The higher we got the more the camels panted and roared, and the cries of the drivers were doubled.

One farsakh and a half from our last camp, we reached at 2 a.m. the top of the Godar Khorassunih Pass (8,400 ft.), and we had to halt for a while to let the camels rest. The cold was bitter. Camels and men were trembling all over. Then came the descent.

Camel riding is comfortable at no time. It is passable on the flat; just bearable going up hill, but dreadful going down a fairly steep incline. The wretched beasts assumed a kind of hopping, jerky motion on their front legs, with a good deal of spring in their knees, which bumped the rider to such an extent that it seemed almost as if all the bones in one's body began to get disjointed and rattle. When the camel happened to stumble among the rocks and loose stones the sudden jerk was so painful that it took some seconds to recover from the ache it caused in one's spine.


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