We wake up very early to reach the Al Qassim camel market at the outskirts of Buraydah, the largest in the world. A quick coffee, pack the camp and ready to go at 7am. The market starts at around 6 in the morning and it hosts not only camels, but also goats and sheep. The first thing that surprises us is the size of the goats that are traded here. As we enter the market one huge goat falls from a car and escapes its owner, while trying to keep the other one safe at the back of his Land Cruiser pick-up. Unfortunately for the man, when he starts again, the other big goat jumps from the car and escapes as well. It took quite a while to the man to recover the poor animals that were probably smelling the knife of the butcher.
Camels are traded only certain days of the week (Saturdays is one of them), but goats and sheep are traded every day. This is one of the liveliest and most colorful spectacles you can see. I love these popular events rooted in the past, very far away from today’s clean and ascetic technologies. I hope these kind of things are never lost and traditions are kept by the people. The camel owners trade their camels either for breeding or for meat (the butcher is just some minutes away and you can take your camel in pieces back home, just in case you are hungry). It is fascinating how they trade the animals, all the shouting, the simulated fights and the final handshaking to seal the deal. Another astonishing thing is how they handle the camels and lift them into the trucks with the cranes.
Another remarkable thing to me, while I mix with the people with my cameras, is that they ask me to take pictures of them and share them to their whatsapps or they take a photo of the picture from the back of my camera. These people are os friendly and amiable that is hard to believe the misconception we have in the West about them and their supposed animosity against westerners. Far from true, they are generous and hospitable and always willing to engage in a conversation.
After the visit to the market the manager of the market invites us for a very big breakfast with dates, sweets, cheese, eggs and plenty of Arabic coffee. For those who have not lived in Arabia, Arabic coffee is made from roasted coffee beans, which can be roasted lightly or heavily, as well as a mix of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, or saffron. It is usually prepared from start to finish in the presence of the guest and the time while it is preparing allows for small talk and preparation of the business talk.
We leave the camel market in the direction of Ha’il a city to the north. On the way, we stop by an uninteresting archeological site and the impressive Hutaymah crater.
I am starting to become fond of remarkable petrol stations as I am of couches on the street. I cannot resist to photograph these places. I think I will need to travel around Arabia more than once to get a good collection of petrol station photographs (only hoarders like me would understand it).
Today we sleep in a hotel, which is a great relief for us. Tomorrow we will head West to Al Ula and visiting some archeological sites on the way and we will sleep in the freezing desert. Alhmadulillah
Total distance: 374 km; Total time: 12 hours 35 minutes; Moving time: 4 hours 40 minutes; Average moving speed: 80 km/h.