[By Javier de Blas in Tindouf, Algeria] Between February and March 2015 I spent a month living with a Sahrawi family in their "haima" in the refugee camps of Tindouf. Every Tuesday, I'm posting here the notes and sketches I made about daily life in the camps.
26 to 27.03.2015
Tomorrow we will have a farewell dinner. The younger siblings of Shabu, - Aziza, Jalima, Abderrahman, together with a cousin of theirs are in my room, which is a lounge, and play Saharawi dance music. There is no alcohol here, the people don't go out to cafes, pubs or discos. Dancing is a fun way to get rid of the cobwebs, of the tensions and recover one's humor.
It is not the first time I dance with the family. My clumsiness makes them laugh a lot at me. But the feminine grace of Aziza, Jalima and her cousin Jira who comes now and then from the kitchen, gives me a feeling of awe, I'm absolutely fascinated from all this. It's like a decorative suggestive saunter "arabesque" that adequately complement the terse and vigorous movements of the men. The melancholy voice of the singers and the sweet complaint that come from the strings of the hajoujs (primitive Bedouin lute) transport me directly to the nightly campfires of the desert. A pity not to have lived there before.
Exhausted, they end up on the carpet and I continue marveling at them, delighted with the familiarity with which they lie down for a while, there in the same room where I sleep and meanwhile Duaya, Shabu and Jira have been cleaning the tea-set and preparing the food, which continues into the morning. Sidahmed, the eldest of the brothers who lives with the family, helps them to shred the meat which is cooked in large spherical pots covered with bags.
The show of the 27th is beautiful, by the variety and appeal of all the dishes. It's a pity that the all the family does not sit with us to eat. Here it is customary for those who invite (in this case, me) are accompanied only by members of the family closest to those invited, (today they are friends of Shabu and mine) while the rest eat apart and afterwards. This is what the Saharawi hospitality is like.
On the night of 27th I leave with the convoy which takes us to Tindouf airport. On this trip I did not see monuments, but yes, a monumentally warm society. Nostalgia will last for weeks.