Justin's Travels: Goat market in Oman
By Justin Francis
Oman is rightly proud of its Forts, they have over 500 of them, many lovingly restored. Our Omani guide wants to show us as many of them as possible. They are sand coloured, with text book crenulated ramparts and really very lovely. However, once youíve seen three such forts...
Oman is a very refined country. Itís not crowded, and the Omaniís perfectly turned out in their robes. When you build you have to use the same colour, and only go a couple of stories high. Many buildings look the same. There is no litter and the cars are all new, very clean and mostly white. Itís very quiet. Itís almost like the country was knocked out of a stencil to ensure its consistency Ė which is kind of was as the Sultanís wishes are followed to the letter. It makes for a very relaxing and enjoyable place to visit.
However, as a visitor itís hard to connect with the passion, energy, pride and fire of being an Arab and living in Arabia. We hear of a Friday goat market and ask to visit, looking for an angle, a way in to real life.
When we arrive we see a lot of people, more than weíve seen together in any other place. They are loosely gathered in the open air. There is an oval parade ring, a raised central seating area where some of the smartest buyers and oldest men site, and a crowd about 10 deep around the outside. The air is charged. .
Every few minutes someone appears with a small group of unruly goats, often carrying their prize beast, and walks them around the ring. He shouts at everyone, is extremely animated and extols the virtues of his animals. They shout back. Itís very hard to know who is buying what, but itís clear trade is being done.
Dust flies, the goats routinely escape and run amok. We move closer to the front, and the goats are replaced by sheep then cows. Itís non-stop action. A cow breaks free and hurtles through the crowd, the old men laugh, we are terrified. There is one woman buying animals, she sits cross legged on the ground and throws stones at the traders to get their attention. Itís wonderful.
In my experience you can never go wrong with a livestock market.
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[Goat in Oman