Desert Oasis

Trip Start Jun 07, 2008
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Trip End Jun 28, 2009


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Where I stayed
Bedouin tent in Sahara Desert near Erfoud, Morocco

Flag of Morocco  ,
Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Today we drove across the desert and I learned that there are different kinds of desert in the Sahara. Some parts are like where we are staying, with huge sand dunes, but other parts are rocky, and others are very dry river beds part of the year and marshes in the spring. We drove to a place where there is a marsh - but because it is late summer, it was completely dry. The ground was cracked just like I saw in a National Geographic video - but Khalid said that when it fills with water in the spring, it is full of frogs and fish and birds who come to eat them. Right now, all the fish and frog eggs are buried deep in the ground. Weird. There is nothing here now, except camels and donkeys, but there will be flamingos, storks, even some Canadian geese just like at home.

We then drove further south to a village called Khamlia, which is in the middle of nowhere. We went there to meet some musicians who play Gonwa music, which is supposed to be where jazz came from. Their ancestors have been playing this music for ever. But first, we visited the school in the town. It is only one room, and they sometimes have up to 20 kids of all ages in it. They had posters on the walls with Arabic letters and stories, and a poster about children's rights. And they had a world map and a chalkboard. The building was made of mud, sticks, and straw and had sticks for a roof, and a dirt floor. It was made of natural materials like the Willow school, but it was very different.

Then we went to a house which was a lot like the school, but a little bigger, and had cushions on the floor. This is where the musicians performed, but it is also the house of one of the singers and his family. There were eight musicians and two of them were boys. They used drums and these silver metal things called krakkems in their hands, and they sang in Berber and danced. Khalid said that most people in this village originally came from African countries, so are not from Arab, Berber, or Jewish ancestors. The music was loud and I liked it.

After they performed, I met the boys in the group. They live in this village. There names were Bougema and Mohammed. Khalid helped translate my questions and their answers and they also asked me questions, like what grade I was in and what my marks (or grades) were. They were very nice and it was great to meet them.

Tonight we broke the fast with Khalid, Hassen, and Idir at our tent. That was great - we had hard boiled eggs, fresh milk, these great flat pancake like breads, called mzemen, and dates. There are about 45 different kinds of dates grown around here. Kids have to climb the date palm trees to pick them, but I can't figure out how they do it. We rode camels by moonlight before Lu and I both fell asleep listening the musicians from the night before, lying on the carpets in the tent.

INTERVIEW WITH MOHAMMED AND BOUGEMA
Khamlia, Morocco
Sahara Desert

How old are you?

Bougema: 13 (this is his first year to fast all day for Ramadan)
Mohammed: 10

Where do you live?

B and M: Khamlia, Morocco on the edge of the Sahara

Who do you live with?

B: My parents and my two brothers, who are 8 and 16 years old

M: My nine brothers and sisters (6 sisters and 3 brothers) and my parents

Do you go to school? If so, where and how do you get there?

B: Yes, I go to a school that is 240kms from Khamlia. I have to take a bus to one town, then switch to another bus to get there. I stay with my sousins there during the school year.

M: Yes, I go to the primary school in Khamlia. I walk to school because it is very close by.

What is your favorite subject:

B: French and Arabic

M: French

What is your favorite food?

B: Cous cous with meat
M: Tangine with meat and French fries

What do you do for fun?

B: Play soccer.
M: Play soccer in the morning and draw in the afternoon.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

B: Maybe a teacher or musician
M: Musician

What are you most afraid of?

B: God
M: God also

What message would you send to all the children of the world?

B: Do well
M: Study well
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