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Our Sahara Nomad Wedding – Part 4 – Gnawas and Rug Merchants

Our Sahara Nomad Wedding – Part 1
Our Sahara Nomad Wedding – Part 2

Our Sahara Nomad Wedding – Part 3
Sahara Nomad Wedding Virtual Wedding Album

If you want to book your own Sahara adventure, here are the guys to talk to: MoroccoSahara.com


In the morning, Assou offered to take us to a Gnawa village to enjoy Gnawa music and dancing. Since his car would only carry five at a time, he took the Souidi family first and then returned to get Sam-Omar, Sarah, Hanane, and myself. Along the way we saw Berber boys with their pet foxes standing beside the road and holding the foxes up for tourists to stop and take pictures of.

Hanane was in love with the foxes and wanted one to take home, but I suspected and Assou confirmed that they make lousy pets. None the less it was nice to stop and take pictures and pet the beautiful little things.

When we arrived at the Gnawa village, the Souidis were already looking bored but thanks to the beautiful music and great rhythms, we managed to get them all to get up and dance with us.

The Gnawa are the descendants of black African slaves who brought their own traditions with them and evolved their music into that for which Morocco is most famous. It is the original trance music and often used for ecstatic ritual and dance because of it’s heavy bass and rhythm.

Assou then took the Souidis to al-Rissani to see the medina, wander the souks, and have lunch. It was a forty minute drive from the Gnawa village so Sam-Omar, Sarah, Hanane, and I waited in the Gnawa house while he shuttled between for about an hour and a half. We played the instruments, rested on the cushions, and in all enjoyed just relaxing.

When Assou returned, he asked that I drive. I was glad to speed through the desert. I miss driving sometimes. Hanane wanted to buy some silver jewelry and I had given her about some money to shop with so Assou took us to a tourist shop called Maison Taureg. The owner, named Mohammad of course, asked Hanane if she wanted to see carpets. She said no, but of course, she had just come in with three Americans so he insisted. She said she would see one, he said he would show three, she agreed and he proceeded to show us about fifty. Being ex-pat Americans, the three of us knew that we needed to show no interest, Hanane had not yet learned that by company she is going to be treated as a stupid American tourist and as she heard the ridiculous prices she became angrier and angrier. The rug merchant wouldn’t stop of course and finally when I saw that she had had enough, I pulled out the best tool in my tool box and began grilling the rug merchant with every question I could think of about himself, his family, life in the desert, where he has traveled, music, and more. He tried to continue selling, but of course, my training as a stock broker and a journalist has made me unstoppable and I know for certain that as long as I am asking someone questions, I am in control. Soon he gave up and suggested we look at the jewelry.

Assou showed up with Hanane’s family arrived, they were all hungry I asked Assou to please take them back to the hotel and feed them, he understood. We started to walk to al-Rissani and a taxi showed up and told us Assou had called him and asked him to take us. I love Assou, he saved us once again.

Coming Soon – Our Sahara Nomad Wedding – Part 5 – Camels and Caravans

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Vago Damitio

Mr. Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

2 thoughts on “Our Sahara Nomad Wedding – Part 4 – Gnawas and Rug Merchants

  • August 29, 2010 at 9:16 pm
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    i must admit, i’m very suprised about that last photo where you all are sitting around the table and eating. Is that lady in pink really breast-feeding? Amazing how traditional, uptight and conservative Moroccans can be about women at most cases but exposing your breast in a mixed company seems to be perfectly kosher :).

  • August 30, 2010 at 7:27 pm
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    Ragne, I don’t know how I missed that she was breastfeeding. I shouldn’t of posted that. In fact, breastfeeding is conceptualized as totally non-sexual in the Moroccan psyche. Seriously, no one notices it is in fact ‘perfectly kosher’ but since this is the internet. I took the picture off. As to us eating…well, I paid for it and everyone was hungry so, there we were!

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