Day 12

I slept well last night and was awoken this morning by the sound of children laughing and calling. When I went out, I found them playing a game they call ‘Chase the Boar’. One child plays the boar, and the rest of the children are the hunters. One child carries a ball made of knotted rags or strips of leather. The idea of the game is that the children chasing have to corner the boar by surrounding him. Then the child with the ball throws it at the boar. If they hit him, he (or she, for boys and girls often play together) becomes the boar and everyone starts to chase him. The one who was boar joins the fray. It’s a wild, riotous game with much puffing and laughter. I have yet to see a real boar hunt, but I suspect a lot of this play is based on real hunting skills.

Another game I have seen the children play is a form of skittles. Five short lengths of hollow branch are set up in a row, generally on top of a rock or a thick log. The children take turns to throw the ball at the skittles and they tally their scores with piles of stones or nuts. Older and younger children play together, with the younger children allowed to stand closer than the older ones. Again, it is great training for the hand-eye coordination that will later be needed in hunting.

Something at which Arrakeshi children are very adept and which Carlikan children could never match is tree-climbing. I have seen little ones as young as three-years-old sitting in the branches of trees I could not begin to climb. They find hand and toe holds where I can see none at all. Older children take care of the younger ones, discouraging them from climbing too high, but even so I marvel at their agility. Their suppleness and strength makes Carlikan children look lazy, but it has to be admitted that Carlikan children do not have these opportunities.

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