“Camel Wrestling” and more

I had two pieces of very enjoyable, special excitement, this week.

In Antalya, a much larger city about 2 1/2 hours north of here by bus, they have concerts on some Friday evenings. A Dutch sailor who has been based here for many years, often arranges for a chartered bus to take sometimes as many as 45 people from the Marina to Antalya for about two hours of shopping malls, a meal in a nice restaurant, and the concert for that week.

Because of the way things are arranged, often there is not very much notice. That is to say that, in the past, we only learned about it, a very few days before it happened. Awkward, if you had already made arrangements for the timeslot. Janet went to quite a few of them when we were here before, and always enjoyed them very much. But, I am often not big on classical music, and I had not yet gone.

When I missed one this Fall, that, as I recall, had one of England’s top violinists, playing a Stradivarius, insured for 2,000,000 pounds, and doing some fantastic pieces, I decided I needed to go to the next one.

Unfortunately, the man who usually does it is out of town right now, but, Edward, another very generous Dutch cruiser, that Janet and I first met in Portugal, in 2005, filled in the gap. He did all of the arranging, and finding out exactly what the program would be. Surprisingly, that often changes at the last minute.

He hired the bus, counted heads and made sure that we all got on, and all got off, at not one, but two shopping venues in Antalya. And then he made sure that we all got back on the bus and got to the restaurant, and counted us as we all got back on the bus and went to the auditorium, We all enjoyed the concert very much! And he even made sure that we all get safely back to the Marina, at about midnight.

No small task. Something like herding cats. Edward also finds the time to teach a two-hour computer class every week. Other experts in the Marina, teach other classes on appropriate subjects. It is a very nice Winter season here.

I think it was also Edward that brought it to our attention that the national camel wrestling championships, which are held all around the southern part of Turkey at this time of year, were coming to Kumluca, which is not far away. If you do a Google search on
video “camel wrestling”

It appears that you will come up with a lot of footage. You will quickly see that none of the footage, as far as I know, shows Dave, or any other human. wrestling a camel. This is only camels wrestling other camels. As is often the case my Internet connection is not good enough that I want to watch any video downloads right now.

It should be no surprise that I am opposed to any animal cruelty. IMHO, I saw none. But, the following article mentions starving them for weeks to make them grumpy. That does not seem good to me.

I think that at this time of year, when the females are in heat, if any male camel, becomes aware of a female in heat, he wants to further the species. If there is any other male, anywhere near by, he does too. The settle this by wrestling. In the wild, there would always be a LOT of this going on.

So, just the wrestling part, does not seem like animal cruelty to me at all. Of course, humans are not the only animals that like to ‘stack the deck.’ So, I would prefer to not have anything that IMHO is cruel. But, I am a guest in another culture. I think that women should get equal treatment. Education, work opportunities, and so on. But, some parts of the World do not. There are many things that I want to see, that are not how today’s World works. Get used to it. (But, I may nudge a little, here and there.)

Here is a recent article. One of hundreds of good ones.

It is my understanding that this sport is taken very seriously in this part of Turkey. This is a government site.


There are teams and sponsors and a stadium full of spectators. The people sitting in front of me were looking at the schedule for the tournament next weekend in Selçuk, which is quite a distance away. They had a big spreadsheet of which camels would be competing at that event.

Since I had no idea what would be involved, I got there a little earlier than was necessary. It was the nominal time for starting, but there was not much going on. However, after a while, more and more gaily decorated camels came in. To the accompaniment of very exotic music from live performers. To Americans it was a sort of music that you would expect a snake charmer to use. No Barry Manilow here. Stakes were driven in the ground with chains to attach to a hobble connecting both front legs and another stake to hold a rope or chain that went to the camels bridle.

It seems that camels are a just like human males. When a pretty female, that is also in heat, goes by, they start salivating mightily, and want to fight for the chance to, well, associate with her. Makes perfect sense to me. Kind of like a Singles Bar. Fortunately for everyone concerned, a female camel does not have that effect on me. In fact all the camels looked pretty much the same to me.

They weren’t kidding about the saliva. I think you could get a similar effect if you had the camel chew on a 5 kg box of laundry detergent. There was saliva everywhere.

Think, thick white foam, like white latex paint, that when it fell on the ground, the puddles were a quarter inch thick or more.

They were all slobbering like crazy. You did not need to have posters explaining that it would be wise to stand well back from the camels. Although I did see three or four young boys, standing in the middle of the entrance area, almost run down by one of the camels leaving the arena. The camels all have a camel bell, actually several, that clang as they walk. It is on the seat, up on their back, not hanging from their neck like a cowbell. The little boys must’ve had their brains totally disengaged, as only little boys can. However, the handler, casually shoveled them out of the way with a push, just in the nick of time.

I have no idea of camel etiquette, but to the uninitiated it appear that there was a lot of marking of territory, and rolling on the ground, which I think has more to do with transferring scent, than scratching one’s back.

And, like most public functions the world over, there was a gigantic amount of talking by an announcer, that seem to go on and on and on. Seeming much longer since I could not understand any of it. There was a prayer, and the national anthem. And then a lot more talking, and then finally two camels, squared off in the middle of this big stadium, and kind of halfheartedly tried to dominate one another.

Not overly exciting for the uninitiated spectator. If you have a heart condition, no need to keep your bottle of Nitro pills in your hand. At least not at this stage of the entertainment.

Then there was another long yak, yak session by the announcer, and two more camels came out and tried a little bit harder to dominate one another. In these first two sessions, the taller of the two camels tried to get his neck over the top of the neck of the other camel, while they were standing side-by-side, at a slight angle to one another. The upper camel would usually put his entire weight on the neck of the lower camel. His front legs were completely off the ground for long periods of time. He was trying to just push the lower camel down to the ground.

Not surprisingly, this did not work very well. The upper camel, may have put a few points on his scorecard, but the lower camel was not even close to going down. I’d been told it was more like judo or something, in that they would try to trip their opponent. But these camels had not read that book.

I was beginning to think that maybe I needed to go ahead and do my shopping and let the camels work it out for themselves, when things got a little more exciting.

Before long, two camels were about to be introduced to one another, and the camel nearest me, knew exactly what to do. None of this, walking up alongside and putting his neck over the neck of his opponent for him. He was a ‘now kind of guy.’

As soon as he got close to his opponent, they had not yet even been introduced, he just put his feet into fast-forward, and was all over that poor fool. He had him down on the ground in no time. One slight design problem was that, apparently the one on the bottom, did not know how to say ‘uncle’ in Turkish. And the one on the top was not about to quit until he heard it.

Of course when you have a full-grown camel, planted on top of you, inhaling in order to be able to speak, may be a little difficult even for another full-grown camel.

But the human attendants were not born yesterday. These are trained professionals! There were a whole lot of people standing around in florescent green vests, and many of them had long ropes. They quickly attached ropes to various parts of the harnesses, and encouraged the camels to separate. I don’t know if you remember seeing pictures of the zeppelins, with their ground crews.

It was the same idea. You see this giant object, with a mind of its own, and you see several ropes, with large strings of ants pulling on them, trying to encourage the giant, to do something else.

It seemed to usually work.

And you could always tell when there was good news because the crowd would go crazy with applause and whistling and cheers. Although I think that sometimes the whistling was when there was a problem.

For example. When one of the early pairs of combatants, came together, one camel knew exactly what he wanted to do. He ran around behind his opponent and gave him a couple of nips.

Now, before entering the arena, there was a special man at the gate, who would make sure that there was a strong rope wrapped around the camels muzzle, so that he could not bite very effectively. I by no means said could not bite at all. Just not the full Monty.

Well, the recently mentioned nip-ee could testify that even a small bite from a camel is very memorable. He instantly took off yelping like a dog with his tail on fire. The referee blew his whistle right away. We are not sure if that signified an inappropriate move from the aggressor, or acknowledgement that the victim was clearly saying the Turkish word for uncle. But it was just a very high pitched voice.

There was only one fight like that. As I said, then there were several, quick and presumably more orthodox fights, where, at least one of the camels know exactly what to do and got to doing it.

Including one where, I wish I had a video, because, as I was taking photos, I suddenly realized, that there were clumps of humans, in small groups all around the fighting camels, that were giving boxing and wrestling demonstrations. Even some women came out and gave lessons in leverage, how the energy of a moving object increases with the square of the velocity, and other applied physics demonstrations on the nearby males.

But, after a short time, the men with a florescent green vests, escorted the volunteer instructors from the area. Not long after, an ambulance arrived with their siren going. But I did not see who they picked up. A camel would not have fit.

I would be pretty sure that the best camels were saved until last, but I had some shopping that I wanted to do, and so I went on with my day after a few hours of this. I think festival went on until dark. If I had it to do again, I would, aim to arrive about the time that I left, and watch the best part instead of the warm-up band.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I may be going to a cyber café this next week. I’m using Windows 8 on one of my computers, and some time ago they upgraded to 8.1. But I was told that it was several gigabytes worth of download, and that would be, (A) impolite to hog that much bandwidth on our barely working Wi-Fi system, and (B) take forever. And it probably not work anyway because it would disconnect several times, because it was taking so long.

So, if I do watch a particularly appropriate camel video, I will come back to this posting and annotate the appropriate part. And, as I say I will put in some of my photos as soon as I get a chance. Give me a week or two.

Just to be clear, I was told, and as far as I can tell correctly, that the camels are not harmed by the shenanigans. They sometimes cost $200,000 each!

It is not like a bullfight in Spain. As I say, any male camels tend to frequently do this anyway and these are muzzled, at least partially, and the humans do their best to not permit serious injury. The crowds of Lilliputians with their ropes run in at the first sign of problems.

Except for the camel who thought his tender bits were in danger, it was mostly more like judo then ninja assassins.

Although, there were a lot of booths, selling hundreds or thousands of large sausages, allegedly made from ground up camel. So, it may be in your best interest not to lose too many fights.

If you would like another amazing ethnic experience, do a Google search for:
turkey oil wrestling

That is wrestling, in the country of Turkey, while literally bathed in olive oil. It is not oil squeezed from turkeys. Actually here they call our turkey the ‘Hindi’. I think many of the Mediterranean countries do that. I’ll let you figure out why.

They wear only a pair of leather trousers. (As far as I know.)

When you find a collection of photos, notice that in many photos, one very oily man has one of his very oily hands, WAY DOWN inside the other very oily man’s very oily trousers. Just exactly what is he reaching for? This does NOT look good on so many levels! My mind races!


“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
―EXACTLY where did Dr. Seuss say that? I love it, but what is the real origin? Can you find it? I have not yet.


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