Nomads of the Sahara – Part 3

By Mohamed El-Gasmi | November 6th, 2019   No comments
Nomads of the Sahara Walking with Nomads

Nomads of the Sahara – Part 3

Chamou’s Story

One time my mother was sick and we had no medicine. We were far from any villages or healers. We just keep watching her suffering a terrible fever until she died in the middle of nowhere.

Nomad Story Walking with nomads

Right after my mother death, my father decided that we have to move from our nomadic life and settle next to civilisation. He was sad and he just concluded that he might lose his entire family one by one if he keep on roaming in the desert.

We moved with our small herd of goats next to M’hamid Oasis. But after we moved, our situation was horrible. We were extremely poor. It was autumn and we settled there, at the end of the oasis, where we could herd in the desert around the oasis and benefit from the dates falling from the trees in the autumn winds. 

We had a small tent where we lived. My sister told me that she and mama made it out of goats’ hair. While staying at the edge of oasis our father had to work in the oasis with farmers and sometimes going to the desert to bring lost camels back for a small payment. In the mean time, me and my elder brother had a job which was to take care of our herd. My elder sister was our second mother. She was the oldest one among us and unlike other girls she was wise and quite and she worked so hard. She was this beautiful desert flower who took care of us

Timbuktu walking with nomads

Escaping the desert

For me, I hated the desert. I just blamed it for what happened to my mum. I was dreaming that one day I would get out of it and be released. But it seemed that it stuck to me because even if we were next to the village, we still owned the herd and I still had to go into the desert to have to take care of it.

One day, a man came and asked me if there was any tents for renting to be used for a  celebration for a visit of the King to the village. But instead of renting it, I sold our tent to him. For me it was my only way to tell my father to find us a home in the village and also a way to take my revenge on the desert.

Mhamid pierwsze spojrzenie.
M’Hamid

Later on, when my father come and discovered what I did he punished me. But what I did convinced him to sell the goats and we settled in the village and moved in with some other relatives in a big house. 

Leaving M’hamid

I spent few years at  the village of M’hamid but something was always attracting me to the city life. I just felt I had to travel to a city and try to find a job and discover city life. So it was only a matter of time to find myself on the bus in my way to Laayoune, the economical centre of Southern Morocco Sahara Nomads.

Laayoune Walking With Nomads
Laayoune

My first day wasn’t cool being a black boy, walking the street with a big red jacket that I stole from my father before I left and an old pair of sandals. It just pushed every boy on the street to call at me “hey tall slave what are you doing here?”

For the few first days of my arrival I was asking everyone for a job. Then I found one where I was cleaning the streets of the city and collecting rubbish. I kept working there for few months hoping they would register me legally because this is what they promised me. I was working with my heart and happy with my job.The man we were working for is a rich politician who owns hundreds of camels and one day he chose me among the other guys to go and herd his camels. At the beginning I refused because I didn’t want to be back in the Sahara but he said it will be just a matter of months then I can be back and he would legally register me. He took me in his car and drove me for two days until we got to the place where his camels were. The place was very far between the border with Mauritania country at the very south of Morocco.

Tricked

Later on, after a few months, I knew that the man had cheated on me as he is promising everyone and using us all. I hated the situation of being in the middle of nowhere surrounded by camels.

One day, I heard that a car will come and bring us food and go back and I started to think of a way that they could bring me back to the city. 

I pretend to be sick so that they that my  director will send me back to the city and that’s exactly what happened. The man believed me and sent me back with the next car. 

This time, after I got back to the city centre, I decided to travel back again to my home town M’hamid and join the military services. That’s what happened. I did join but after few years something happened and they kicked me out of the service.

My Destiny

I was very sad and disappointed because my situation wasn’t the same like when I was a young boy. By now I was married and had kids to feed. I felt so lost and I didn’t know what to do. I just felt I like a big loser who can’t succeed in anything. 

And I said to myself “you was running in cities and everywhere escaping from the Sahara and you just fail and fail again and again. Why don’t you just go back home and accept a destiny that it is connected to the desert?”

Nomads of the Sahara Walking with Nomads
Photo Credit @Khashi.nia (IG) who met and trekked with Chamou this year.

I had some savings and I used that to buy two camels. This enabled me to start working in tourism in the desert as a camel guide, joining trekking and riding tours.

Right now life is good. I have found a way to combine a life in a village and a life in the desert and this is perfect for me and I am so happy about it.


To get to know more about the life of a nomad, come on one of our authentic desert treks in M’hamid Sahara, Morocco. For more information or just to chat with someone who has done these treks themselves – email us on contact@walkingwithnomads.com

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