Flockeo: Please, introduce yourself.
Karen: We are Karen (French) and Saïd (Sahraouian), and we live in South Morocco. We have created a trekking agency called “Mélodie du desert” based in Mhamid el Ghizlane, at the gates of the Moroccan desert. We only offer trips on foot to the heart of the Drâa valley (in the desert). We pay specific attention to the authenticity of the trips we offer, in keeping with the nomads’ customs and lifestyle and respecting the desert.
Flockeo: How does the Covid-19 impact your activity? Have you witnessed changes in people’s habits (organization of solidarity acts …) since the beginning of the crisis?
Karen: Suspension of air travels from, and to Morocco completely stopped our activity in mid-March. Usually, the trekking season ends at the end of April as temperatures are too high from May to September and make travels on foot impossible. This early stop gives a hard time to many nomad families for whom tourism incomes are their main revenues. The team of “Mélodie du desert” is mainly composed by family (uncle, cousin …) and nomads from the Aarib tribe. Members of this tribe have always shown solidarity throughout the different crisis faced (drying of the Drâa, population settling in the village, floods, drought etc.). Weather conditions are tough, but mutual aid is big. The covid-19 has an impact on revenues, so people are already helping each other by exchanging livestock and food, helping pasturing herds, lending material … Nomads are used to live with little, diet can be simple and comfort can be limited, it won’t affect their happiness and joie de vivre. Family ties are very strong and they have always been so. Up until now, no Covid-19 case has been declared in Mhamid or in the desert. Thus, nothing changed from the health perspective.
Flockeo: Do you think that the current situation can have a long-term impact on people’s mindset?
Karen: If this situation remains “short”, it should not affect a lot the nomads’ lifestyle and habits… but concerning Europe, we received very interesting feedbacks from trekkers telling us that not being able to buy or consume and not paying attention to time passing reminded them a lot of their experiences in the desert: living happily with few things. We hope that this unprecedented situation will create awareness on overconsumption and the impact of the accelerated way of living that some choose and that others endure on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea.