Within minutes of arriving at Didim’s inaugural camel wrestling festival the fists started flying. Anyone familiar with wrestling will know that a wrestler may not hit their opponent with a closed fist and camels don’t have fists anyway.
Extra knees, foul tempers, advanced mathematics*: yes. Fists: no.
We had only just arrived and were still some distance away from the arena so I didn’t see what had sent the tempers briefly soaring into a middle-aged entanglement of knitwear.
The camel wrestling itself is more sedate – until one wins and then the fun really starts.
Names of politicians are supposedly given to camels but I preferred to channel Terry Pratchett to pair up You Bastard vs Evil-Smelling-Bugger or Nasty-Vicious-Brute against Brian.
Motivated by nearby females the two randy, frothing, male beasties try to get each other in a head lock or push, butt and shove each other with their neck muscles and skulls.
They do this until the loser runs away, often through the gates and towards the crowd, who themselves scatter towards the Englishman with his girlfriend clinging to him, preventing the capture of the panic with a photograph.
I have wanted to witness camel wrestling for some time but always remembered this at the wrong time of year. We had intended to go to Bafa the following week until learning our home town was for the first time holding its own deve güreşi festival.
We had entered via the car park after a passing friend picked us up in his car. Putting my hand to my heart I politely declined to buy lottery tickets from a passing vendor: only later when we got near the pedestrian entrance and noticed all the ticket stubs on the floor did it occur that we had declined to buy entrance tickets.
After a winter at my desk this made me feel like a cheap-ass backpacker again, even if we were only a mile or two from home. Queuing up for a free sandwich at a stall for the police reinforced the feeling even if it was noticed we weren’t Turkish police officers so would we kindly bugger off.
* according to Terry Pratchett.