When we hear a rap at the door and see a courier standing there with a parcel we often take the delivery work that he's carried out for granted. That hour-long traffic jam he's sat through on the A40 and the tepid coffee he sipped at a motorway service station all seem pretty inconsequential as we thank the driver and sign for our package. But if you thought that your driver had it bad, spare a thought for the poor souls carrying out delivery work in the desert:
The Arabian Desert conjures up images of camel caravans, campfires and exotic dancers, but in reality it simply isn't that romantic. In day-to-day life camels have been used to transport goods across the deserts for hundreds of years and they're still used now. However, in the past century the goods that they're transporting have changed substantially. Nowadays you're more likely to see camels transporting flat screen TVs across the desert than incense and spices. Seeing a camel with four huge television boxes strapped across its chest is quite a sight to behold. Camels are perfect for delivery work as they can carry up to 1,000lb at a time. They can also cover a distance of 30 miles a day. A distance of 30 miles may be nothing if you've got a lorry filled with new televisions or a white van filled with supplies, but when you're leading a caravan of camels through temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius then this is quite something. For the trivia buffs, if you thought that camels were nicknamed the 'ships of the desert' for the amount of weight that they are able to carry then you'd actually be wrong. Camels earnt this nickname because of the way they walk; a motion that resembles a rolling ship passing over the waves.
Mail Planes in the Outback
The Australian outback also suffers from desert conditions and temperatures, and as a result camels were used for delivery work between Oodnadatta to Alice Springs. This journey took up to four weeks and was finally suspended in 1929, when the railroad superseded it. Australians living deep in the outback now have a more modern approach to delivery work and depend on mail planes that are able to cover long distances in a fairly short amount of time.
Horse-Back Delivery in Arizona
It's hard to imagine that less than a century ago, the American states of Arizona and California were little more than arid desert. Delivery work during this time period was by horse back and the Pony Express was able to cross from the Missouri River to the Pacific Coast in just ten days, crossing deserts, mountains, plains and prairies. Despite its success the service lasted just under a year before being replaced by the telegram. However, there is still one town in the US that relies on animals to carry out its delivery work; the town of Supai at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Supai is served by mule train and post sent from this town carries a special postmark highlighting this fact.