I woke before dawn to a riot of bird song, and was drawn outside to see the sunrise. Outside among the tall dunes that surround our guesthouse, there was a blissful calm with not a breath of wind. The sand was a soft beige at first, then the sun crept above the horizon and ignited the dunes into brilliant shades of orange, pink and crimson, their silhouettes superimposed behind one another, a constantly shifting and shimmering mirage of haunting beauty.
A camel caravan returned from a morning outing, and Berber men in cobalt turbans and robes offered fossils for sale that they'd dug from remote dry mountains during the hot summer months.
A small cluster of women patiently sat outside a darkened stall, waiting their turn to be treated by a healer, who was letting blood from the backs of two women’s necks. This process is thought to heal a variety of ailments, including headache, stomach pains and arthritis. He shaves a bit of hair at the napes of their necks, then draws the blood out using his mouth with a long thin brass tube.
Many varieties of dates are for sale here, along with furniture, clothing, cookware, meat, rugs, fossils, beautiful Berber jewelry & decorative pieces. We bought tooled metal perfume dispensers – used by Berbers to scent their homes just before guests arrive. Our driver Tahar stopped at a butcher’s stall, where he ordered a “Madfouna” to be made for us, it’s a traditional specialty made only in this area, a stuffed pizza with almonds, egg, meat, olives. He also ordered an extra one and a bag full of tripe, for the men he’ll be sharing a tent with this evening at our camp.