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Full Circle

Day 131: King's Creek

King's Creek, Australia 
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Gunnar, my fellow camel-musterer.
Michael Palin - Full CircleBut Ian, I know, is not going to let me rest until I have lassooed my very own camel. We drive a little way further on before the next sighting. I cannot capture the sensation of what happened next better than in the lines I scribbled in my notebook immediately afterwards.

Ian will simply not let me give up. Trying to keep my balance and re-hang my stick lasso after the last attempt, I'm thrown one way and the other, banging the small of my back on the rear bar and the bottom of my ribcage on the front bar. Grabbing for a hand-hold only to be sent spinning by one of Ian's swerving high-speed ninety degree turns. Winded by the blow. Gasping for air as Ian yells at me to get ready. Pull myself upright, catch my balance, seize the forward bar just in time as he swings the wheel and accelerates so fast over a low rise that both my feet leave the floor. For one moment I want nothing more than to continue the ascent and rest quietly in the arms of St Peter.

Down to earth. Just in time to duck as we race under a low tree. Ian is almost up with three sprinting camels. He veers with them, I'm thrown forward, my rope loop hangs down over the cab, Ian shrieks at me to get it out of the way, before it catches in the steering wheel. Turns for another attempt. The camel's far too canny by now. Every pass is an effort. But no let up. After each failed pass he turns and takes me in again. I'm full of so much anger and frustration. Nowhere for it to go. Again Ian yells over the roar of the engine and the whine of the helicopter. 'Ready!'

The camels veer off as I throw. The vehicle spins and whines, flinging up the dust. I've hit my lower ribs going forward. The stick feels as heavy and unwieldy as a small tree. I want just to stop. Please let me stop. Ian re-adjusts his course and we fire onwards again. I'm pitched forward. He screams at me 'Get that bloody rope out of the cab. I can't drive with it like that!' And that's when I explode. That's when all the pain and the anger and the emotion and frustration all comes out. I hurl abuse at Ian. I shriek Fs and Bs at him. I call him every foul name under the sun. But he probably can't hear for the screech of the tires, the thumping of the helicopter, the whine of Westy's motor bike and the hysterical revving of the Land Cruiser. It's all pain and noise and desperation but now he has me alongside again, beautifully positioned. One last lunge, one last call on resources I don't believe I have and the loop is over! And then I know what he meant about adrenaline rushes. I know that everything is as he said it would be. I get down and clasp his shoulder and apologise for all I said, but he just beams and rubs the back of the lassooed camel and hands me a ball of fur. 'There y'are. Last of the winter coat.'

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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 131
  • Country/sea: Australia
  • Place: King's Creek
  • Book page no: 190

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