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27 March 2015

Culturally speaking! Local culture in our Astronomy trip to the Sahara, Southern Morocco.


On my latest astronomy trip to the Sahara in Southern Morocco, I met with many enthusiast people in astronomy. I had a blast doing many activities related to astronomy as Meteorite hunting, astrophotographying the night sky and learning much of astronomy in general at this fabulous hotel/observatory called Sahara Sky. 10 days of meteorite hunting, astronomy learning and stargazing in the Sahara was incredible and just unforgettable. Please join me in a series of posts on my journey through the Sahara in Southern Morocco and one of the most dark skies places I have ever seen.

Me and our guide @ Tamegroute village
Credit: S. Lamoureux
This is a short post on the cultural side of the region I visited while I was there. The town of Tamegroute 15 kilometers away from our location in the Sahara desert was having it's market day. From fruits to spices and donkey sales, the people where bustling. Our guide was the great great grand son of a very old pottery family. The oldest in Tamegroute. He invited us for tea in his shop and gave us the grand tour.

Rocks believed to be Meteorite. The dark rock is 3 kg.
Credit: S. Lamoureux/ KTY Toutatis.
His pottery was amazing, old fashion way and old techniques used still today. At the end we discussed of the old rocks that he had laying around in his shop, we argued that they could be meteorites fallen for the sky. They laughed and went along. 20 minutes later a friend of our guide had come with a big bag of supposed meteorites. In a instant this meeting became a meteorite sale and bargain. We changed his shop of pottery to a shop selling meteorites. It was lots of fun and you felt immediately the warmth of the inhabitants.

Another strange, brutal and beautiful event occurred during the time I was in the Sahara desert. The desert floor turned green. Unprecedented rain falls hit the entire Morocco, leading to some destruction and fatalities. This was a catastrophe. In an other hand, the result of this rain fall gave the opportunity to the desert to grow small vegetation on the surface of it's hills and plateau's. It was incredible to see a green desert. It looked almost like a green rug that was laid down on the landscape for miles and miles. It was cool.

The Sahara floor is green and full of vegetation.
Credit: S. Lamoureux
Another interesting thing with the desert is that when you are isolated for many days behind the dunes of the Sahara desert, your return to civilization is brutal. The people seem more beautiful, more nice, more lively. It was a shock to return to Marrakesh after the 10 days I spent in the desert. I really noticed the loneliness and isolation of the Sahara desert. This also was a cultural chock for me this time around.

This is the last of  9 post series on my Astronomy trip to the Sahara, Southern Morocco. If you have missed the posts, you can find the post-series HERE.
Follow the complete travel post series and enjoy the astronomy behind it. This is all part of the public outreach of Astronomy Club Toutatis, Kustavi, Finland.  

Links:
Village of Tamegroute WIKI


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