Snow traps Amazigh tribes in the Middle Atlas mountains in Morocco |


TIMAHDITE, Morocco –

For residents of the remote Moroccan village of Timahdite, nestled in North Africa’s highest mountain range, heavy snowfall results in weeks, if not months, of isolation.

The nomadic Amazigh tribes who live there depend on the sheep that graze in the lush forests around the village, located at an elevation of 1,800 meters (5,900 feet) in the Middle Atlas Mountains. But as winter sets in, they are gradually cut off from the world.

The mountains, known for their red-shaded ground, give way to what appears to be endless white. The isolation persists until the road to the village is reopened by tractors from the local authorities. But they are often delayed.

After only a week in the first snowfall of the season, the pool and foosball tables that young people spend time with are fully covered. The sheep are nestled together in a small barn for days.

When the snowy weather finally recedes, families try to get their lives back on track. Children walk along winding roads to reach the nearest school.

While most men return to work in neighboring towns, women bear the brunt of village life. They chop wood from a nearby forest that is used for heating, bake Amazigh bread from flour that had been stored weeks in advance for the winter. In the afternoon, they walk or ride donkeys to nearby lakes or water sources and wash clothes that can finally dry in the sun. Sometimes they also play the role of the shepherd.

About Wesley V. Finley

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