We planned a good part of our trip around the Thursday morning market in Douz. Our hope was to be among the local camel herders and their big herds of dromedaries. It did not quite work out that way, but we had an incredible experience anyway.
I almost dreaded trying to write this entry because I knew I could never capture the energy, excitement, sounds (and smells!) of the livestock market in Douz. Sure, the camel herders were missing, but it seemed like everyone else in this tiny community showed up that early morning. You could purchase goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, burros, horses, cattle, lizards and even Sahara Fox! Or, if you were not in the market for any additions to your herd, you could just buy a cup of tea, sit back and take it all in--that is what we chose to do.
The market area was shoulder-to-shoulder crowded, or tail-to-tail if you'd rather. There was bustling and bumping, but everyone seemed to be in good spirits. Most of the buyers seemed serious and the business transactions lively. They walked about and checked the animals' teeth or felt their backs.
Everyone at the market was male, with
Checking out the merchandise
There were only two little calves at the entire market.
the exception of me. We were worried we might not be accepted, as there is no way to walk among the community without being noticed. Some buyers were too focused to even take notice and others were excited to see foreigners taking an interest in their industry. Some people, aware of the language barriers, simply put their hands out to shake and smiled. Others politely stepped aside so I could pet the livestock. But no one seemed to think it strange that we were so curious and snapping photos of everything.
Like livestock sales in America, there was a little concession stand, an organizer who took commission, and a little showmanship between the herders. The concession stand sold tea (in communal cups) and sandwiches. The managers or guys who organized the sales, kept track of sales, wrote out receipts and watched for any under the table transactions. The herders showed off their animals reminescent of American county fairs or state fairs. They lined up their stock, tied them in perfect order and demonstrated their best qualities. We even noticed a small herd in the back of a truck standing in a bed of wood shavings--this was unique and seemed
designed to keep the herd looking its best!
While at the weekly market, buyers could also purchase bales of hay, tools and supplies for their herds. And, also like its American equivalent, the market seemed to be a social outing for herdsmen. Thursday morning was a time to catch up, socialize, and measure up the quality of your herd.
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