The Berber Camel Whisperer

Youssef and his family accepted my Couchsurfing request in late October. I spent some time with them in Merzouga, a small Moroccan town in the Sahara Desert, near the Algerian border. Youssef not only invited me to stay in his guest room, but also showed me around Merzouga. He would point out places that locals would congregate as well as the touristic sites. We passed by the hotels obviously designed for the tourists and both had a good laugh. Youssef and his family introduced me to their traditional Berber foods and customs. Berbers, or Amazighs, are part of an ethnic group belonging to a 4,000-year-old tribe indigenous to North Africa. We spent quite a bit of time looking after and feeding his camels, making sure they received enough dates and water. After spending a few days observing Youssef him with his animals I can truly say he is a camel whisperer. He knows how they think and how to calm them down. When I mention this to Youssef he tells me “of course I understand them, they are my family.”

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