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On the outskirts of a country in Western Sahara, I sit next to a young Moroccan man who tells me he and his family are from a desert-like country.
“All they know is what the French tell them, ‘you must do this, you must do that,'” he says with a small laugh.
“I’m lucky. I don’t know what I could have done without them. They taught me how to make bread and what to eat.”
Today I am in the town of Albaia, which means bread in Arabic. The town’s bread is “the bread of the Arabs” and is eaten by nearly everyone in a village that is home to a population of some 50,000, one hundred percent of which is Arab.
There is little money in al-Baidaia – which was established around 12 years ago to serve the Arabs of the Sahara. The community is based around a school, a school building, a hospital, a church, and an oil well about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Albaia.
There is a small shop in front of the school selling bread. I sit down at the counter and purchase a large loaf. It is brown and heavy with a crumbly crust and a moist, slightly sour interior. The bread is about the size of a small apple, and tastes good fresh, although you can tell it is stale from the stale smell – a bit like stale bread. Although it is full of flavour, I don’t know what more I could have been looking for. I am now full of satisfaction and want to enjoy life in this land.
A small white man appears behind my counter, telling me that I have to give him my bread. It was in Arabic. I have my mobile phone and now I don’t need it anymore. I smile, feel good about what I have done, and buy another loaf. I have spent about three hours preparing this bread and I’m not even tired. I am hungry, and my stomach hurts a bit after I eat it. I was thinking of something to eat in the desert.
I have eaten all those breads I knew about before. I am curious to try other breads – the local people call them “julam” – and other things. But nothing happens and all the local people want to drink water. That’s the way they know to keep their bodies healthy. I walk out into the desert, not
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