In Bodrum, Mugla, women are sustaining a tradition of camel feeding that was once considered a man’s world, especially in the Mumcular and Kumkoy neighborhoods.
Secil Sayar Unlu, a 29-year-old kindergarten teacher turned real estate agent, takes care of her camel with her husband at her father-in-law’s barn in Kumkoy.
Wearing special cameleer boots and a nomad scarf, the young woman hand-feeds and cares for her camel.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Unlu said her interest in camel breeding started when she was just a kid thanks to her uncle. She says she has been following camel wrestling ever since she could remember.
Unlu said that she and her husband decided to buy a camel after they married.
“We bought a camel with the support of my father-in-law. He encouraged us. I am dealing with real estate, but, I also take care of my camel in my spare time and go to wrestling matches,” the young female cameleer said, adding that she spends time with it instead of going on day-trips on the weekends.
She explained that the care of camels is difficult and people should understand from their language in order to properly restrain them.
Unlu said men cameleers are initially surprised when they see her at a camel wrestling event, but that quickly turns into support.
“Men generally deal with camel breeding, not women. When they see me in the field, they get surprised. There are some who appreciate what I do, considering that I am a female,” she said.
“Women are generally scared of camels. That’s usually why they don’t get close to them. However, there is nothing to be scared of when you transmit your love to it. The first thing is to love this job and be curious about it,” she added.
Special camel necklace for Valentine’s Day
Unlu said that because of her interests in all things camel, she has a lot of camel trinkets, knickknacks and merchandise that she collected over the years.
“My husband had a camel necklace prepared on Valentine’s Day for me. In everything I own, you can see a camel. There are camel figures on my key holder, bags, handicrafts and ornaments,” she said.
Meanwhile, she mentioned her plans to buy another camel.
Umit Unlu, her husband, is also as interested in camels as her and he is more than happy to deal with them.
“My wife is more experienced than my friends’ wives. She almost loves the camel more than me. Some of my friends’ wives don’t like camels. They are disturbed by the smell. However, my wife says that it is our son’s smell. I have an understanding wife. I hope everyone has a partner like her,” he said.
Living in Mumcular Neighborhood, Mukaddes Dogan, 69, also has a camel and loves it like a child.
Explaining that the first thing she does in the mornings is to care for her camel and feed it, Dogan said: “I got introduced to camels thanks to my son. He used to go to camel wrestling in Antalya and I got used to it. He kept saying that he would buy a camel and one day he did. I have been caring for it for nearly six years now.”
“The former owner of our camel said that it doesn’t like women very much. However, it got used me. It reacts to my voice now,” she said. “We also attend camel wrestling events. While my son watches the matches, I stay by our camel and people who see me get pretty surprised.”
They shouldn’t though because “this camel is like my child,” she said. “In the mornings, I feed it first and then I have my breakfast. I love it much more than my own children. I plan to continue camel breeding until I die.”
Source: Daily Sabah