I had more possessions in my suitcase than the Berber family of ten I was staying with had in their entire home. Nonetheless, the children were well fed and their laughter indicating contentment. For the older members of the family however there is an attraction for city life and a pull to visit other countries in particular England which has somehow seduced them into believing that there is a better world out there. I guess reality might teach them otherwise.
Having no electricity or running water seems at first an unsurmountable problem but one adapts quickly and even after one day it all seems rather normal. A walk in the desert at 4 am reveals the milky way in a glory to which we are not accustomed because of our eternal light pollution.
It feels good to be here. The above 40 degree heat of the midday means a compulsory siesta and the lack of electricity forces an early bedtime. Water is collected from a well some 10 minutes away; the donkey Arthur staggering under the weight of the filled water containers. Fortunately he knows his way home because it is easy to get lost in this barren landscape without recognisable features. The four girls perform this chore three times per day with a smile and their one concession is to sing and dance to a tinny tune of an old Nokia phone. And what fun they had with my powerful LED torch!
Life here hasn’t changed in thousands of years but for how many more generations will it last? The lure of towns with their cars, TV and shops is very strong. I doubt they will be able to resist and their way of life will inevitably erode in pace with the barren dunes of the Erg Chebbi.
Vincent van Walt
More pictures here: http://rdubois.zenfolio.com/p839298781