We were up for one last adventure near Essaouira; our guide had heard about an animal auction in one of the villages so we drove out to a small, dusty village and found it bustling with activity. Parking at the edge of the village we walked down the length of the main street passing camels being led down the street, trucks loaded with sheep, cows (hadn’t seen many cows in Morocco) and goats. Abdul, our guide asked about the auction and was told it had ended but we continued on through town.
It was quite obvious this was not a tourist destination, we saw only men who looked at us like we were aliens and I guess we were pretty strange looking. Turning down one filthy side street, a veritable mine field of mud and animal poop, Abdul found a large corral filled with men and camels, the sales were still underway. We cautiously approached the enclosure, slipping through the gate just as a man was leading some enormous camels out of the gate. The camels were not happy nor were we as we tried to disappear into the wall to give them room to pass. YIKES! These were certainly not the docile camels that we had ridden in the Sahara.
It was a fascinating scene as camels were inspected and negotiations begun. Some of the camels were hobbled while others wandered around the enclosure or huddled in groups. Camels can go for up to $2,000, a hefty price compared to $200 for a donkey.
When it was time for us to leave, just outside the gate, we witnessed a camel being led into the back of a small truck, I should say being pulled and pushed up a ramp into a small truck against his will. It was frightening for the animal and for us; I am surprised the men at the rear of the animal were not injured in the process. We beat a hasty retreat for fear the camel would get loose and seek revenge. It was not pleasant to see these animals man-handled but again, this is not an easy life for the animals or the people and I tried to keep it all in some kind of perspective. While I did enjoy having the opportunity to see part of rural life I can’t say it left me with a good feeling but then I don’t enjoy rodeos either, guess I’m just a city girl.