Well I’m finally getting around to posting about our time in Morocco earlier this year. We journeyed to the small town of M’Hamid – a ten-hour bus trip south of Marrakech near the West Sahara and Algerian border. As we traveled the last 45 minutes on a one lane, perfect, asphalt strip to the very end, I wondered what lay ahead. It felt like the end of the world.
We came here to attend the International Nomad Festival. It wasn’t widely publicized. I found it by googling what was going to be happening Morocco during our time there.
We stayed at Hotel Kasbah Sahara Services . It had hot water and was where the organizers of the International Nomad Festival were staying.
We wandered the small town and ran into many young “Blue Men” who were just the day before in Western clothes sitting on the bus next to us. I never had so many people saw “konichiwa” (hello in Japanese) to me in my life! The locals know many languages.
What struck me was the beautiful expanse of the desert, and also all the trash that was buried in the sand and the brightly colored plastic bags blowing around like tumbleweeds.
I felt inspired to make a land installation. I created the Sahara Mandala out of trash and desert stones. It is about 8 feet in diameter and honors the land and the four directions. My iPhone compass came in handy to set it correctly,
It wasn’t very pleasant to build it without gloves or rakes, but it made me feel at one with the people and the desert.
I purposely installed the mandala outside the elementary school so the kids could see it. I hope it will inspire them to think about trash and art in a different way. A few kids came over to talk with me about it. I videotaped their thoughts and will have to the French translated.