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EcoTour #9 : Chez Madani

An Eco-Farm and a Bivouac gateway to the desert

Story by Rubens Ben April 19th, 2016

There is a place in the Moroccan desert where travelers can broaden their horizons, a little piece of land that carries the meeting, and that will grow according to what everyone will want to give and receive.

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Genesis

“In 2009, my son fell ill and asked me to help him die. I can not. I take my backpack and decided, at 52, to go to my birthplace in Morocco. In Ouarzazate, I feel sucked into the desert and I decide to go to a nomadic festival in the dunes. I take the bus to the village of M‘Hamid and there I see a young man. He wears a blue cheich and gandoura. I said: “Hello I think we know each other.” He said, “Me, too.” It’s Madani. He invited me to his home where I met his mother. Madani was born the same year as my son. I told him I wanted to go to the desert. We left. The first night it rained and Madani said “good people bring rain.”

Marie, co-founder of the farm.


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Up to 14 years, Madani has lived in a tent with his father in the wilderness.



“My father was one of the last chiefs. Nomadism stopped with the drought that began in 1984. In five years, it rained half an hour”.

Like many young Sahrawi, he became a caravan tourist guide, at the service of large complexes run by Moroccans in Marrakech.



“We were not allowed to speak with tourists, get out of their questions. No right either to eat or to drink tea with them”.

Madani left what he calls “the tourist factories” to create with Marie the Bivouac gateway to the desert, where the only wealth is that which is born of the encounter and sharing.

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Five years after the first steps of Marie alongside Madani, the bivouac can accommodate a dozen people in an earthen habitat, and ten in Bedouin tents. Madani has designed and built the hostel.



“I was inspired by the homes of Australian aborigines, those of former nomads and yurts.”
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“You can practice yoga, dance, music, but the main activity, are the outputs in the desert. In 2005 and 2006, I walked for six months in the desert, M‘Hamid to Mauritania. I accompanied an Australian writer. I know the desert by heart”

Madani

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Madani and his Renault 12
Madani and his Renault 12

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Footnote: Text translated in French from lagedefaire-lejournal.fr/bivouac-aux-portes-du-desert/
Mhamid, Souss-Massa-Draa, Morocco