Scotsabroad's Weblog

March 1, 2008

Birqesh Camel Market

Filed under: Cairo — scotsabroad @ 6:39 pm

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On Friday morning we got up early to travel 60km north of the city to the camel market at Birqesh. The Rough Guide to Egypt describes the market as a, ‘feast of drama and cruelty’ and that just about sums it up. Hundreds, if not thousands, of camels are transported up from Sudan, one leg tied up to prevent them from running away, and are then bargained for (and battered with large sticks) until a sale is made. Ironically, if bought for butchering the camel is only then relieved of being struck as this causes the flesh to become bruised. I found it hard to comprehend the abuse especially when the buyers and sellers hit the camels on the face. Watching them load the camels on to pick-ups and small lorries was also gruesome. Throughout it all the camels had tremendous dignity and I think they must have agreed long ago not to show fear or distress amongst uncivilised humans. Gulliver’s Travels came to mind. The boys watched the spectacle without distress.

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Following this we stopped off at a Reptile House near Giza. The animals, as you can now guess, were kept in appalling conditions. The house was owned by a very famous Egyptian snake and reptile hunter/collector. Shona found the conditions hard to take. The boys once again took it in their stride. They were given some snakeskin to take home which will be taken to school for show-and-tell no doubt this week. The most memorable moment was watching the owner’s son work with an Egyptian cobra (Cleopatra’s poison of choice) eventually hypnotising it and being able to kiss it behind the head. He then asked the children over. We were not surprised that Lucas ran over almost standing on the poor creature and had no problem getting the snake draped over his neck. Cairo, not wanting to lose face, had the courage to get the same done to him. Shona and I were both delighted that he went for it. At the end of the morning an American couple who were with us on the trip made a point of telling us we had two lovely boys. We know, but it was still great to get a second opinion. 

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3 Comments »

  1. I love the contrast between Cai and Lucas’ faces: one is not too happy about the snake, whilst the other is absolutely overjoyed! It’s absolute class.

    Comment by Alistair — March 7, 2008 @ 9:22 am | Reply

  2. So lets get this right: Poisonous snake that can kill an adult in say 30 mins! 2 young boys and an Egyptian who CLAIMS he can hypnotise snakes?? And dare i ask where are the parents?

    Comment by Gordon — March 7, 2008 @ 6:58 pm | Reply

  3. I’m phoning child line! that’s not right. Shona & Andy are oviously on the hubba bubba. Bring my nephews home i say! Ha! Ha!

    Comment by Shari — March 13, 2008 @ 9:36 pm | Reply


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