Friday, November 19, 2010

Camel Market

We had a fascinating trip to the camel market today.  It's about an hour outside of Cairo.  The trip there was very interesting as well (see other blog entry to be posted soon about that).  We set out in the morning since the guide books said the camels are sold from 7am-noon with most business stopping by 10am or so.  We got there around 9:45am or so, in time to see a few camels sold and carted away.

It cost 25 pounds per person to enter the market and another 10 pounds for a camera, (so about $11 total for us).

The market smells like a horse or cow farm and the ground has camel feces all around.  There are corrals, about 6 or so in total, three on each side of the main corridor of the market.  Some camels are clustered in the main corridor with a teenager occasionally wacking them to keep them in a cluster.  

I had read that most of the camels brought to the market had been brought from Sudan.  Camels are raised here in Egypt too, but they are not indigenous to Egypt.  None of the artwork from ancient Egypt during the time of the Pharaohs show any camels.

I asked a few people at the market where they were from.  One man had brought camels to sell from Ghana. I met a couple buyers from Cairo and Luxor (in the southern part of Egypt).

I've read that camels sell for anywhere from a few thousand pounds to 5,000-10,000 pounds.  (5.7 Egyptian pounds equal one dollar.)

Here are some photos from the camel market (in arabic:  Sou Gamel) .in Birqash.

Some camels die en route or are bought for meat.
Camel buyer from Luxor, Egypt

To stop the camels from running, one of their front legs is sometimes tied up.
It's not easy to load a camel into a truck.  They are first put on the loading dock, then pushed and pulled.
It can be challenging to get the camel to kneel in the truck for the long ride home after being purchased.

The camels didn't want to scootch up to the front of the pick-up.
Pushing didn't work well so the pickup went fast, then slammed on the breaks to make the camels slide forward.
Finally, they were loaded and ready for the trip home.
These camel traders nodded that it was ok to take their photos.

Camel negotiations.

Camels being trucked away.

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