The Omdurman Camel Market
Khartoum Travel Blog› entry 60 of 81 › view all entries
Desert men wore white turbans, brown or white cotton tunics (galabeyas), and brandished silver swords at their sides. Weathered feet and faces reflected the rugged wretched lives they led on the desert. They mixed and mingled with other nomads and with local dealers or brokers at the Omdurman camel market, not far outside Khartoum on the edge of desert. One band offered chai. An unveiled black woman poured us each a glass from a copper kettle that brewed over a small wood fire. Men sat cross-legged with their backs against a lean-to made of burlap bags. We sipped their tea and regretted that none of the clan spoke English.
Trade included camels, cattle, donkeys, horses, goats, grass feed, and precious firewood.
As we rode a horse-drawn cart hauling feed toward the city, Scott and I imagined organizing a future month-long expedition to Egypt by camel. The group would consist of three or four couples and include members knowledgeable in celestial navigation, regional archaeology, and medicine. An old man or young boy would tend the camels and do the cooking. Somewhere in the Nubian Desert we would join a Bedouin caravan for several days - traveling in the cool calm of night with stars our map. During the scorching days, we would camp in white canvas tents on colorful Persian carpets. We would sell the beasts up in Cairo for a small profit …