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Published: February 6th 2019
It is really cold at 815am for breakfast. The space heater is in the dining room. Sara manages a couple of cups of tea and then wobbles, so it's back to bed for her. David doesn’t want to abandon her and go on the 4 hour plus excursion to Ait ben Haddou as she seems really poorly. So it's a morning of relaxation on the terrace, at least once it warms up by about 930 or 1000. Unusually for him, David makes friends with the cats. There are at least five of them, and they enjoy reclining on the sofa together, leaving no room for human intruders.
Sara seems to have perked up a bit by lunchtime and manages to sit outside, and eat some toast, fruit and a few nuts. She then declares she is ready for a small excursion so we set off with guide and driver to the local market. In the Moroccan countryside there is one big market a week and you had better buy everything you need as the market tomorrow will be maybe 30 miles away. There isn’t much in the way of shops and we haven't seen a single supermarket. We take a
walk around the market. If you need it, it's here. Second hand and new clothes all piled, up, pans, utensils, toys, hoes, spades, and lots of repairers mending stuff. Any broken appliance or kitchen implement can be mended. Men huddle along one wall making knives and tools. There are huge piles of vegetables, sometimes on plastic sheets and sometimes just on the ground. You get a big plastic bowl and select what you need for the week. There are spice sellers and herb sellers and everything is incredibly fresh, literally picked that day. The butchers' stalls are not for the squeamish; carcasses are being hacked apart and jointed up. Aziz offers to take us into the big tent that he refers to as “the butchers”......presumably that is where an animal becomes a carcass, but Sara's stomach is not feeling up to taking a look at that. Oh and here are the wood merchants selling trimmed poplar trees of various lengths for you redo your flat roof. Taking photos is quite difficult, you have to exercise discretion as some people really don’t like it. The advice seems to be you can take pictures of a number of people but not of
individual people unless they give permission.
Back to the vehicle we set off to the Kasbah Amridil. A Kasbah is a fortified house or castle. This one is in Skoura and used to be the residence of an Arab family of forty people. They have all moved away but now let tourists visit and rent it out as a film set. It is a traditional mud brick building with lots of rooms; these places are built with large mud bricks, and then small mud bricks are used for decoration and artistic embellishment. They generally don’t get more than an inch or two of rain a year and if the rain falls heavily, the outer layer can get washed away and needs to be replaced. Sometimes straw is added to the mud on the outer layer. We won't get to Ait ben Haddou in this trip, but such is life. Apparently there are seven such Kasbahs there all on top of each other; we won't get to see where “Gladiator” was filmed but there is always another trip to be made in the future. And there isn't an amphitheatre there anyway.
We then take a walk through the oasis.
Irrigated plots growing beans and alfalfa are interspersed with date palms and tamarind trees. The water is brought from the mountains and from wells through channels and each farmer has to wait his allotted turn to take his water and irrigate his plot. All very organised, and these parts of the oasis probably look like they have done since the 11th
century. No machinery is used, if your plot needs turning over you use your donkey to pull your implement. We don’t meet a single soul, and enjoy the peaceful beauty.
Back at the lodge, we enjoy a beautiful dinner of plain but tasty food, cooked specially with Sara in mind. We’re very sad to have to leave the next day.
Scroll down for more photos.
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