The “Sunday Market,” redefined
On our first morning of exploring, Sean and I went to the Karakol Livestock Market, one of the largest livestock markets in Central Asia. The sun was barely up and there was a slight blue tint to the world as the daylight was breaking. I felt it necessary to edit these photos in black and white, because truly, I felt as if we’d taken a step back in time. Couple that with the fact that we were still experiencing culture shock in a big way and you have a formula for an intense first day.
Activity starts in the wee hours of the morning, and people from all over the region, including some who travel down from Kazakstan, come to this market specifically for live animals–sheep, horses, cows, etc. And although Karakol is the country’s third largest city, it is still operating in some instances like it did many years ago with basic bartering of goods and in this case, animals.
They come to the market early, some with the intent to sell and be out, some wanting to buy, and then resell later in the day to someone else for a higher price. Essentially, if you want the best prices, you go early and buy livestock and then sell it for a higher price at some point throughout the day. There are some men who make most of their living using this technique. Our guide from CBT Karakol, Azamat, was very knowledgable on the market although he didn’t accompany us into the thick of it (and after going in and nearly getting trampled by cows and run over by car tires and smashed in crowds of people, we see why!).
I love this photo where you can see this girl has worn a fashionable coat, boots and perhaps a dress or skirt to the livestock market.
The women’s investment in their looks–even at times like this–just blows me away. They’re are so many beautiful women here… And not that I didn’t expect it, but as I said before its just crazy with the dichotomy of fancy clothes with the run down architecture. Another guide of ours, Kas, put it best when he said,”I think it’s in our blood [as nomadic people] to always operate as if we will be moving tomorrow.” When he said that, everything really clicked and made sense for me.
Putting the day’s earnings into the trunk of a car…
You can’t see it here, but Sean’s jacket is bright yellow. Can we say, “sore thumb”?!
I wish I had a better photo that truly captures the magnitude of what this market is… there were so many people!