When I reach the main road to the west of Agadez, I take a left, walk in what seems like a dry riverbed, until I get to an open space. It is not immediately clear where I have to go, and the people I try to ask do not speak French while I only know a few words of Tamasheq - until I see a man herding his goat into a narrow dusty street on the left. Just beyond, I find my destination for this morning: the cattle market of Agadez. It is early in the morning, and buyers and sellers are still arriving. I install myself in a corner of the open space, close to the cow market, which allows me a good view at the life of the cattle market. People - almost only men, with a few small groups of women passing by every now and then - arrive from small side streets to the dusty open space where cattle is traded every day of the week. This is the regional hub for most trade, and people come a long way to buy or sell animals here.
The cows, for starters, are a sight for themselves. They look mighty when they stand up, revealing their full body mass, but more than anything, it is their horns that make them look truly awesome. Their Tuareg traders are kneeling beside the black beasts, their colourful turbans not even a remote comparison with the fear-inspiring horns of their animals. Not much happens here: perhaps it is too early to buy a cow? I chat with a very friendly motorbike driver, and hear the same story I would hear so often in Agadez: after the collapse of tourism, people have moved away from their original jobs, and are now doing anything else to earn some small money. He tells me that the previous foreigners here visited a month before, and were escorted by two vehicles with armed guards parked at either side of the market. I am happy I am alone; it would just feel different with that kind of bodyguards.
It is time to explore the rest of the open space. Next to the cows, there is a small herd of donkeys, with a cute small white baby donkey. The middle section is dedicated to goats, and therefore the largest section. Further on, the camel market has a small amount of camels for sale - but no trading whatsoever. I now install myself at the other side of the market, which allows me to observe the goat market. Here, things are happening. Tuaregs in long robes are walking around, pointing out goats to each other, examining them, and walking away with one or two after a deal has been closed. The poor animals are then lifted by their front legs, and their rear legs have to try to keep up with the pace of the buyer, taking his new goat to a motorbike or car. Apart from looking at the animals, the market is a great place to admire the Tuaregs with their traditional dresses, and sometimes, weapons. The market might be quite small, but I end up staying much longer than I had planned. My new found motorbike friend takes me back to the city, and refuses money for the ride.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Agadez Cattle Market (Niger). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Agadez Cattle Market.
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