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Khamlia

We watched as the builders constructed this wall from the earth.  The dampened soil had to be carefully prepared over two days, no cement was used, although sometimes they would add pieces of straw.  Shuttering was placed on top of the wall and the earth was basketed up to the builder who tamped it down.  When the shuttering was removed it revealed a perfect building slab.  One slab must have taken them two hours to produce.  In a day or two it would be the same colour as the others.

We stopped at the village of Khamlia which was a spiritual and cultural music centre founded by ancestors of the Gnaoua tribe who had been brought as slaves from central and west Africa and had lived as nomads in the Sahara alongside the Berbers. Berbers were a fairer skinned people (you would occasionally see a blond head in a group of Berber children). In the 1950s the black Africans founded a community near Merzouga and thrived as the tourist industry in the area grew. The village offered accommodation to tourists, mainly Moroccans wanting a weekend retreat in the desert. Hot water was provided by an improvised wood burning boiler behind the shower block. We had mint tea at the village and listened to their traditional homeland music and watched their dance. The music was said to cure sick people and to bestow a divine blessing. Hamid recommended we give them about £8.