The Aegean may not somewhere that most would associate with camels but here in Turkey they seem to be a big thing. Yesterday camels we being paraded through town with much noise colour and fanfare. We are not really sure why market day was chosen, we guess a prelude to the camel wresting in Belevi the next day.
Today in Belevi was a camel wrestling event which after a leisurely and hearty breakfast we went along to. We caught the Tire dolmuş and got ourselves dropped off at a sign pointing to the wrestling place. It was about ten minutes’ walk and soon we could see many cars and tractors parked up ahead of us, not long after that we could hear the music – there were many people walking round playing pipes and drums. There was a festival atmosphere with candyfloss, sucuk and other festive foodstuffs on sale along with scarves celebrating the camel wrestling. There was quite a decent sized crowd of people, all tending the camels or looking on. A lot of people had come with their own barbeques on which they were cooking chicken wings, köfte, a wide variety of foods. Washed down, by the menfolk at least, with copious amounts of raki. Many of those who felt it was early in the day for raki were drinking beer. We did enjoy our sucuk sandwich – most of the sausage on sale was camel.
The wrestling itself was spectacular – the camels beautifully got up in colourful saddles and head-dresses. They queue up before being taken into the wrestling ring where they are put together with another camel and left to do their own thing. Some of them are keener (or maybe just more aggressive) than others. Some pairs did not fight at all. They were encouraged to wrestle but we certainly didn’t see any being forced to do so. (We’re not quite sure how you could force a camel to do anything it didn’t want to do). In the actual wrestling, they would push each other about a bit. Sometimes one would run away but, more frequently, they were separated by their handlers and teams of officials. There was no chance of any animal getting hurt – they are far too valuable to risk in that way.
Early in January there is the Selçuk camel wrestling event held on Pamucak beach. Hopefully like today it will be bright and sunny. We should remember to eat less for breakfast so we can enjoy more of the delicious sucuk.