Day 34: Nomad fesivalTan Tan

Soutpiel Safari
John & Jenny
Wed 8 Dec 2010 18:07
Day 34: Wednesday 8 December 2010. Camping Sables d'Or, Tan Tan Plage (El Ouatia), Morocco. N28 29.493 W011 20.284 Distance driven 0 km
Last night we had a very convivial evening with Alan, our neighbouring Brit camper and Thomas, dining on delicious fish tagines in the restaurant and with a bottle of wine thanks to Alan. We finished off with a wonderful fruit tagine -  truly a delicious meal.
Jenny and I and Alan, drove with Thomas in his camper back to tan tan to visit the first day of the Nomad Festival. The first problem was getting in as we had left our passports in our cars.  I produced my UK driving licence as ID and after much telephoning the police allowed us in.  I wondered if the fine yesterday had established a record for me on the Moroccan Police data-base and as this checked with my licence I was considered a bona fide tourist and not a terrorist!
We arrived early but the Nomad camel men were already paraded on the hillside above the site and looked wonderful in their white or blue robes and turbans.  It soon turned out that today was the opening day and not much was happening. All the camels paraded in the enormous ring but it seemed to be mainly for the benefit of the press and TV.  We eventually learned that Friday and Saturday will be the prime days fort he camel racing.
The enclosure was probably 400 m square, with the Royal tents at the western end and the two adjoining sides flanked with hundreds of traditional Nomad tents made of cloth woven from camel hair.  We were welcomed into one of the tents by a Nomad family and shown the way the cloth was woven from spun camel hair, in strips about 700 mm (2 ft 6") wide and 10 m (33 ft) long. Between 10 and 12 strips are then sewn together to form the tent which is then propped up on rough tree branches.  It was interesting to see how the guys were attached to the cloth -  naturally bent piece wood was sewn into the cloth at each end and the tent guy attached to the centre. Amid all these natural materials, I noted that the guys were anchored into the ground with lengths of steel reinforcing bar!  Inside the tent were examples of camel hair, twine spun from the hair, camel skins and cushions made form camel skins stuffed with hair. A rack made from thin tree branches propped up a goat's skin which served as a water carrier and one of the women demonstrated how the water is poured out of the goats neck, minus head of course! We had a fascinating time with the family, during which we were interviewed for Moroccan TV and said some very positive things about the country, not mentioning the traffic police!
Back at the camp this afternoon I have made a curry for tonight and we have been preparing for our long drive south tomorrow.