Alongside a slew of what must be Turkey’s equivalent of NASCAR fans, I witnessed a full day’s worth of camel wresting last week. The event is local to the Aegean region of Turkey, spanning from Çanakkale down to Antalya.
Alcohol consumption begins promptly with breakfast as some spectators arrive well before 9am to secure their preferred viewing positions. Perched on truck beds, plastic chairs, and blankets, the oval shaped arena carved into the earth begins to be packed with loud (and quite happy) viewers. Many attended last weekend’s matches. And they will do the same next weekend. The season lasts about three months, and many don’t miss an event.
Starting just before noon, over 100 camels will have been paired and spend a few minutes attempting to topple his opponent. A lion’s share of the match-ups result in a standstill, which prompts even wilder excitement when a victory does take place.
Meeting at the “Camel Cafe” in Sarayköy later in the week, we got an inside look at the lives of a few camel owners.