Wind Caravan Morocco - The Inhabitants of the Village of Soil

Tamdaght, the 4th site of Wind Caravan, is located 36 km to the northwest of Ouarzazate and 5 km away from Aït Benhaddou - the village of soil designated as a World Heritage by UNESCO. I visited Tamdaght on my first trip to Morocco in March, 1999, and was fascinated by its landscape with rocky hills like a newborn planet and its graceful casbah. About 80 families from among the total of 700 people called Berbers lead a simple life in Tamdaght around the beautiful ruin of the casbah.
I was really relieved to see the arrival of the container which I sent off in February from the frozen lake in the north end of Finland . The installation was finished in three days with the help of five men of the village. Although it was hard to fix the tripod bases of the sculptures on the steep slope, the local workers being so used to the rocky hills helped us handily. They use rocks in many ways including hammering nails.
I showed the video of the former three sites of Wind Caravan at the Primary School of the village the day before the opening. All the pupils, about 120 of them, were nailed to the television and listened attentively to my explanation. I asked them to draw pictures with the donated crayons and paper from Japan.
The opening ceremony started from 11 am at the site on April 22, 2001. Mr. and Mrs. Yokoyama, the consul of Japan came all the way by car from Rabat. Mr. Melehi, a friend of mine, who coordinated this project in Morocco came from Marrakesh. Many other friends and press people arrived from Japan, France and Finland. Mr. Merghich, the governor of the province of Ouarzazate, arrived and I explained about the wind generating system of the windmill. The sculptures were dancing actively in the strong wind. The translucent pink sails against the reddish hill and the pure blue sky were impressive.
After a while, we all moved to the casbah, 200 meters away. I gave a short speech after the governor gave his, and we all looked at the exhibited pictures by the children. During this time, 100 singers, 56 dancers and 25 drum players were performing a grand folkloric dance with music. It was magnificent, and the enthusiasm crested, higher and higher. The performers went almost into a trance. I had never imagined such a wonderful opening ceremony.
The people of the village are frank and kind, and the children are cheerful and friendly. Our team was often invited to their homes of soil. The houses are made of sun-dried bricks of soil and straw, and the floor and courtyard of hardened soil. They live comfortably on carpets with almost no furniture. I was wondering how they can keep their houses clean with the frequent bursts of sand storms with only the small brushes that they use. Their drinking water is salted and is supplied twice a week. Cooking is done by propane gas, and there is no electricity. Lighting is available by generator only at night until 10:30. They treated us with delicious couscous, tajine and mint tea, served with a minimum number of glasses and spoons. The children obey their parents and help them a lot. When we tried to imitate some words in Berber, the villagers burst into laughter.
Somebody said that most people of the village had never been even to Ouarzazate and therefore it was significant that Wind Caravan had taught them that Tamdaght was a part of the world. And I feel that we learned something very important from the way the Berber live.
April 22, 2001
Susumu Shingu