Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Camel Market

The camel market (souk al-gamaal) is just outside Cairo in Birqash. Even though it is just outside the city, it took us about an hour to get there. When we saw trucks like these, we knew we were getting close. (Enlarge it and look in the bed of the closest truck.) It cost 20 Egyptian pounds for each of us to enter, and I paid an additional 10 pounds for a camera permit.
Luckily my mom knew Fridays were the busiest day. The pictures just don't do the place justice - imagine about 1,000 camels walking, running, sitting, peeing, groaning. Just imagine camels everywhere.
If only I could understand Arabic...
This one is getting a closer inspection. I wonder what the going price was.Look at the camels behind the boy below. Notice how one of each camel's front legs is tied up. Most of them were hobbled in this way so they couldn't get too far too quickly. Every now and then someone would want to see one of the camels run, so they would unhobble it and "encourage" it to run around.
We were the only westerners there until right before we left, and then it was only a van load.
After the deals were made, it was time to load the camels.
This one was not interested in getting in the back of the pick-up truck.Once the camels were in the trucks they were tied down and driven off to who-knows-where. Mustafa, our driver, told us they were off to camel races in the Sudan.The hardest part of the day, for me, was seeing school-age children working rather than being in school. There were lots of young boys working that day. Many of them walked up to me, pointed to my camera and then back at themselves, as if to say, "Take my picture." So I did. Then they would rush up and want to look at the image on the back of the camera. When I showed them each one would get a huge smile.
As we left, this man asked me to take his photo too - he was the only adult who asked. You should have seen his smile when he saw himself.

14 comments:

Maggie said...

What wonderful photographs, Liz! I'm so happy that you had the opportunity to have such an amazing experience.

Sara said...

These are like National Geographics pictures. The last one is brilliant.

marilyn said...

I just love to read about your trip...it must be
wonderful to be able to experience this and
especially with your Mom.


Marilyn

kate said...

Fascinating experience. That first camel photo is amazing, but so is the story. Thanks for explaining it so well.

susan said...

makes you appreciate your life in america!althou i do see the cell phone so i guess they are not that unhappy with their lot. i am sure this is a regular way of life for them. hopefully to the camel races and that the camels do well or maybe they will wind up in that "camel, lamb, beef" dish....

Manoute said...

I love your pictures and all the details about your trip. More please :o)

The WoodLand School said...

That first camel photo totally cracks me up! And I love the last one with the man on his cell phone. What a riot!

So ... how many camels did *you* buy???

Betts said...

It was so nice of you to give everyone their photo thrill. And what a great, untouristy place to visit.... real local flavor.

clara said...

I can imagine all that wonderful smell in the market. The Cave Cathedral is beautiful.

Valerie said...

I'm grinning ear to ear, what a fabulous description and your pictures, they're wonderful! That 'smiling' (OK, I know he's not smiling) camel in the first shot will have me giggling all day!

LaughingFamily said...

Still loving the updates - thanks again for sharing! We are loving the doses of Egyptian life you are sending out across the web.

nicolette said...

Now I understand why we call camels Ships of the desert! Thanks for the lovely pictures and sharing your adventure!

Pamela Lach said...

What wonderful photos! It looks like you had a great time and some memorable experiences. Your pictures seem to capture the spirit of the place too. I'm glad that you were able to go, and that you made it back safely! And happy birthday to little K.!

KatieC said...

Liz,

Glad everything went well and your safe back home. Your pictures and stories are great!

Thanks for the advance about Acampa Tours in Puerto Rico. It was fabulous!

Someday...someday we'll travel together...

Katie