Imi-N-Tanoute, in the foothills of the Atlas mtns
Trip Start Sep 16, 2006
69Trip End Sep 16, 2007
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We rode into the night, skidding on and off the rocky shoulder of our choppy, tarmacked little road to make room for the speeding busses, topheavy trucks stacked so high they can hardly afford to turn without tipping, and donkey carts with colorful produce. People waved and waved, and the kids became intense. By the end of the day Lucie was losing her patience, cursing some kids who accompanied us up an incredibly steep 3 mile hill leading into Imi-N-Tanoute who intermittantly said inappropriate things in French and asked us for our hats, or other 'gifts'.
It seems that many a tourist Western website recommend that as Westerners, people travelling here should innately feel guilty, and bring 'gifts' for the kids, thusly conditioning them into expectant 'gift receivers'
Imintanoute is a great Berber community, situated in the Atlas mtns. Split by a dry river, with traditional berber houses in mostly pink and red, sitting cozy high in the hillsides. The town recently had a Arts and Music festival celebrating Tamazirght- which is one of the many 'Berber' languages spoken in Northern Africa. The people here were really interested in us and why we chose to come here, and were happy to discuss the complicated political situation between the Arabic minority in power, and the Berber majority- which has been supressed through lack of government funding and racist legislation barring the Berber languages to be used in schools or anywhere for that matter, resulting in high illiteracy rates and poverty.
We made instant friends with a group of really excited and curious tri-lingual school boys, who were really happy to teach us Tamazirght. They were thrilled that someone wanted to learn this language, which is actually quite difficult to find translations for over the internet despite our scouring
We saw some Berber boys break dancing in the space by our hotel at night- they had some impresisve moves and looked to be just as surprised at seeing us walk by as we were to see them in the middle of a headspin move.
We found a favorite coffe spot right way, where Anna enjoyed instant coffe made using the famous 'frothing' method (placing a piece of plastic over the glass and shaking vigorously). Food stalls and vendors aplenty in this thriving market community: nobody asked us for 'gifts', nobody asked to be our 'guide', and nobody heckled us. The Berber communities seem really self sustaining and self sufficient. The prices and experiences at the local shops in this small town were really honest- treating us as if we were anyone else, which is greatly appreciated. Another interesting thing to mention is that no matter how remote a town, or how small, there is usually no difficulty of information sharing, and of Internet access
OH! Also, a funny thing happened as Anna was feeling kinda sick and needed to leave the internet cafe NOW. While trying to pay, the two slick dudes working there decided to start chatting her up.
I walked up as Anna fidgeted anxiously and tried politely to just pay, and they kept inviting us to come back at midnight, to eat with them.
Anna: 'um, how much do i owe you?'
guy: 'so, you like to come back, to eat with us, yes? our guest yes? i am a good cook!' anna: ' no, i um feel sick, i have to go'
guy: 'oh, so you want to sit down?'
lucie intejects and explains anna is too sick to stay, and then anna (desperately in english) explains she really IS sick, and they stare at her, and say
'we don't speak english, sorry, ha ha ha'
Lucie explained that we had ridden a 100 kms that day and that we are tired and need to go, and they said:
'oh, you are sporteeee, yes? one time, i went for 22 kilometers, by zeee donkey!!! i like basketball, do you like zee basketball?'
Poor Anna, she was really at the end of the rope. Truth is, there was a bathroom emergency, the 'sickness' at hand was urgent!
in the end, they decided that despite anna's sickness, lucie should come back ALONE at midnight -or later- for dinner.
so we give Imi-N-Tanoute a big recommendation... a great place with great people!