National Geographic : 1931 Sep
SAILING FORBIDDEN COASTS PREPARING THE "MOUEA," A BARREL-LIKE OVEN FOR BAKING DOURAH BREAD irst build a fire. and when it is in embers, plaster dourah cakes on the sides of the moufa to bake (see, also, text, page 381). Wading through the warm lagoon, breast deep, we crossed the damp sand among the mangroves, treading down the rubbery shoots among which lay quantities of black sea snails, for it was low tide. Beyond the mangroves, the beach stretched bare and white to the four huts, bleached as drift wood, and of so light a construction it seemed that a puff of wind would scatter them across the sand. Two downy baby camels, in a narrow in closure of mimosa thorns, darted snakelike necks through the branches as we passed. From the largest of the huts a man came toward us. I recognized Sheik Issa, whom I had seen in Obock, his lean torso bare, the wooden prayer beads about his neck, swinging across the sand with a vigorous, youthful stride, for all his sixty-odd years. The day before he had seen the Altair from the heights of Djebbel Ghin and had walked all night to be at Angar to welcome us. Sheik Issa, the Danakil had told me, was one of the great men of the tribe, honored and respected as leader and saint, whose word sufficed to maintain peace among the tribesmen or set every man of them in arms. Rich with flocks in the Mabla, camels, and sambuks, he owned houses and wives in more than one Dankali town. But his hut at Angar dif fered in no respect from those of the three fisher families, his neighbors. It was bare except for a prayer mat, an empty packing box, and a crescent-shaped wooden head rest on which the Dankali sleeps. CAMEL'S MILK SERVED IN WOODEN BOWLS A handsome young woman brought us camel's milk in wooden bowls. Dressed in flaming Arab silks, her arms glittering with copper bracelets, and silver earrings tinkling against her dark cheeks, she was like a gorgeous bird in the colorless land scape. A naked child trotted at her heels, Sheik Issa's youngest, its plump little body glistening with butter and its dozens of tiny braids gay with ribbons and cowrie shells. When she had served us, the young wife disappeared. Seated on the packing box while we crouched on the prayer mat at his feet, Sheik Issa told us stories of the not-too-distant past, of the great slave trade between Ethiopia and Arabia and its clandestine survival; of European oppo sition to the trade and the consequent deep Fi 385 F. . .