Since we had quite a long drive heading to Marrakech, our Tour Director, Hassan, shared with us the evolution of education in Morocco. The government has done more and more to get children into school, especially Nomads. The best part is that both men and women who are teachers are paid equally. This is mainly a patriarchal society where I saw several cities where women wear full burkas and men are separated from women in public places. So to hear of equal pay made me happy. Nomads are a bit of a different story. I noticed that Nomads are pretty equal in how they divide the work that must be done in order to survive out in the mountains. When children are 6 years old, they move near a school, or they send their children away to live with family that are not Nomads in order for the child to attend school. The number of Nomads has dropped in Morocco, but there was definitely a good amount that I saw. The one thing that Nomads have done in the past is tattoo the women on their forehead. This is so that they can show that a woman is married and it shows who the husband is. The Nomadic family we met a couple of days ago had the grandmother tattooed. Her daughter, however, was not tattooed. This was due to education. And I would venture to guess that the two little girls will not be tattooed either.
The other interesting thing about Nomads was that they don’t have a concept of time. When asked their ages, they had no idea how old they were. When asked how long the daughter was married, they didn’t have a specific answer. They are truly removed from any type of large cities, only going to a local village to get supplies or sell animals. Coming from a westernized life, this is difficult to understand. At the same time, this is the life they know and it works for them. Upon a marriage, a girl moves in with her husband’s family and she also has a dowry. The girl we met a couple of days ago said that when she married, her family gave her husband’s family two goats and $250€. If she has a son one day, she and her husband will receive a cow.
Nomads seem to move twice a year. They go to the higher points of the mountains in the summer. In Sept/Oct they move to lower ground to avoid the cold and the snow. When temperatures rise after winter, they pack up and move to higher ground. Because of this, they can’t really rely on any harvest since they are not on their own land. They keep lambs, goats, chickens, donkeys, and some have cows but not all. The donkeys are used to transport them to and from new locations. Upon arriving to a new locale, the women build small fences so that their animals will stay and also, so that other wild animals won’t eat them. The chickens had a little home made of sticks, dirt, and rocks. The baby lams and goats were inside the tent so they won’t get eaten. They build the same fence around their tent. The tent is mostly open which keeps it very cool inside. There are no “walls” except on one side. This also seemed to create a nice breeze which kept the whole tent cool from the scorching heat outside.
Men tend to their goats and lambs which for the most part roam free in the areas where there is a lot of greenery for them to eat. If I remember correctly, some of the animal hair is used by the women to make small rugs or other items they can sell in local markets. Upon selling these hand made items, they gather money and are able to buy clothes for the family. There is a large well/spring of water near these Nomads so they are able to go there for water which they bring back with pack mules. I dare say, it’s not a short walk, especially in the heat.
The family was a Burba family. The grandmother was welcoming and spoke with us freely. Her daughter and granddaughters were all quite shy, sometimes turning away from us (strangers). The little girls did not have their heads covered but both grandmother and daughter were covered. It was interesting to see the little girls stare at us in wonder.
I don’t know when I may ever again step foot inside the home of a Nomadic family. I can say that it was an incredible experience, one I won’t be forgetting any time soon.
Have passport, will travel.