We stopped for a couple of days in Tata, a modern-looking Saharan town near the Algerian border. We were surprised that the camp site we chose (which was one of three) was so busy, there were a dozen or so Europeans, mostly French and a few German. Many looked as if they were settled in for the duration – one van was even illuminated with Christmas lights.
There was nothing particularly interesting about Tata although there happened to be a music concert in the town square whilst we were there. We walked into town after dark and enjoyed wandering around the souk. There were hundreds of stalls lining the streets around the square, bustling with activity – pedestrians, cars, bicycles, donkeys and carts and motor scooters all vying for space on the narrow streets. Food vendors were selling a traditional Moroccan snail dish served in a spiced broth, called babouche. Other stalls offered little fried fish, roasted corn on the cob and brochettes whilst others sold freshly cooked doughnuts and the little sweet biscuits we saw throughout Morocco. When the concert finally got under way we chose to leave as the music sounded very loud and discordant to our European (elderly) ears.
We noticed a dusty workshop with a wood fired furnace at the back. The cheerful young man tending the fire told us he was heating the water supplying the hammam next door. He had to keep the fire going all day.
I popped next door into the ladies’ section of the hammam. There was a communal changing room and behind that was door into the steam area. I peeped through the door and was greeted cheerily by several naked women, some with little children, sitting cross legged on the tiled floor. It was hot and steamy and each sat next to a tap and had a small bucket to collect the hot water. There was lots of chatting and laughter going on – they didn’t seem at all fazed by my interruption to their ablutions.