09 November 2012

M’Hamid for Internet & Laundry

Madani, Our host with the most.

Madani’s Familiy & Lunch
Relaxing in the Camp
Rain, No Festival
Music @ Camp
Book, Dates, Confiture

There is a washing machine out here?

This morning we really needed to do laundry.  We asked Madani about this over a good breakfast of Date jam, Date Confiture (Like honey, but made solely from Dates), Oil and bread.  We expected to be pointed to a bucket and tap, but he said we could do laundry at his Mother’s house.  Fantastic, we could also check our email in town as well.
The walk to town is not bad, and quite pleasant.  There are clouds in the sky, and the temperature is perfect.  There is a bit of sand, and then you hit a dry riverbed.  On crossing this, you are at the outskirts of town.  Madani pointed out that since they had built a large barrage (dam) in Ourzazate, the river hardly flows any more, and water is now a problem.

Downtown M’Hamid

He also pointed out all the garbage we were discreetly not noticing, and said that it flows down the river and ends up here.  I’m not sure how to tell the difference from the washed down garbage and the normal everyday garbage.
Madani’s house would be impossible to find without him.  Like all Moroccan towns, the streets are narrow and winding.  Almost like a labyrinth.  He has quite a large block, and at first we thought it was two houses.  His old one is starting to crumble a bit, so he is making the new one beside it for the family when needed.  We met his Sister, and she showed us to a . . . WASHING MACHINE!  Now I was wishing we had taken all our clothes!  After getting that started, we had the perfect Moroccan hospitality.  Tea, and a tour of the house.

Three years young, and still good.

There is a large section that is full of dates that are drying.  To make the Confiture, you have to dry the dates for three years, and then do something else to liquefy them.  This is the drying room, and we got to sample a few different types and ages of dates.  All were good.
After the laundry was done we headed through town to find the internet cafe.  Town has one bitumen road through it, and this is used by everything from massively full trucks carrying hay bales to kids learning to ride their first bike.  Ladies walking past with everything on their backs or heads and men hanging around.
The ladies again dress differently here.  It is typical Saharawi dress.  They wear full black skirts, and over that they wear black cotton head-dress embroidered in sections with every colour you can find under the rainbow.  Anna would have loved to take photos, as it is the most beautiful local fashion so far, but respecting the fact that most women do not like their photo taken, she didn’t.
After checking our mail, we headed back to Madani’s, where we were served a delicious lunch of Couscous.  (Sorry Madani:  Morocco has two signature dishes – Tangines and Couscous.  Both are fantastic, but get a bit repetitive after a while.  What other things do normal Moroccans eat?)
It was back to the camp to relax.

Hand built by Madani

The camp itself is fairly simple.  A mud brick wall surrounds a large compound with several buildings arrayed along the far walls.  In between there are a dozen or so date palms, and places for cultivation.  Madani has a well that is hooked up to irrigation channels for crops.

Our new home in the desert

The buildings include some small huts that are the accommodation.  Low roofs, and simply furnished with rugs, mattresses and pillows.  Toilet/shower block with squat toilets and on the other side there is a small communal area.  This was built in a different style.  There were pillars made from the trunks of the palm trees, and the roof was made from split logs.  The bottom section was traditionally rendered, but the top was left as is, and you can see the wooden structure.  Then there is the kitchen area, with outdoor patio.  The kitchen is well set up, and as there is no electricity, everything is on gas.  Then there is another large communal area.

Taking it easy. Saharawi style

Apparently Madani has large groups of people doing a detox/yoga retreat here, and this hall is used for that.  We had the option of hanging out here, but the smaller one was more cosy and friendly.
By this time it had started drizzling rain.  Madani was happy about this, as it is good for the crops and the donkeys.  Not sure why the donkeys like the rain.  Maybe it is their bath time?  We had planned on heading out to a music festival that was happening this weekend.  African World Music.  Yet with the chill, and rain we passed up on this offer.  It is going for three days, so we can still catch another day if the weather improves.  However there was no need to worry about this, as some of Madani’s friends turned up, and we were treated to our own music show at the camp.  A couple of guitars, and drums.  Andrew even got taught some simple tunes on the drums that even he couldn’t stuff up, although he did!

An insight to the Saharawi

At some point in the day Madani brought out a book.  It is by an Australian woman that wanted to walk across the sahara in 2005.  Madani was one of the guides that escorted her through the Moroccan part of her Journey.  For the rest of our time in the camp we read bits and pieces of it.  Even though Madani speaks English very well, he cannot read it.  We told him about a couple of the sections in the book, as it is mostly a glowing reference where it concerns him.  The book gives a good insight into the Saharawi people.  This is Madani’s tribe.  Even though we may not agree with everything she has said, it is still a good read, and well written.
75% of people in Morocco are of Berber descent, and the rest are mainly Arabic.  The Saharawi are of Arabic descent from Yemen, but do not identify themselves as Arabic.  They are the nomads of the Sahara.
All in all it was a good day.  Good food, good company, and very relaxing.



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