The man leaned in close, his face next to mine. I could smell his breath, a mixture of tobacco and a pungent, unidentifiable spice. His arms were stained slightly indigo from the traditional robes he wore. He was a Tuareg, a true “Blue Man” of the Sahara. Though he was only in his mid-fifties, his face bore the wrinkles of a lifetime spent in the unforgiving sun.
“C’est trés difficile,” he said to me, and I nodded. We were sitting by the fire under the desert sky of the Moroccan Sahara, and he was helping me to untangle the necklaces I wore around my neck. I had bought the strands of colourful glass beads in the souks of Marrakesh only days earlier, and he worked quickly and carefully to free me from their knots.