Chefchaouen – 13/1/2019

“At its best, travel should challenge our preconceptions and most cherished views, cause us to rethink our assumptions, shake us a bit, make us broader minded and more understanding.”

Arthur Frommer

We arrived the day before in Chefchaouen, having driven from Asilah, along windy mountain roads, however it was not the roads that caused the problems, but the wind that literally blew the car across lanes it was so strong.

A new blue sight awaits up every staircase, around each corner and through each archway.

Car parking is a premium in Chefchaouen and you have to park outside the medina, most of the hotels and riads are inside, so it was a bit of an uphill hike with our bags and laptops to reach the riad, add to that, google maps kept directing us to the wrong place.  Nevertheless, the riad has turned out to be nice and comfortable and in typical Moroccan style.

 

Reaching our Riad involved walking through a maze of vendors selling their wares and wandering through the never ending twists and turns of streets.

Chefchaouen was settled in 1471 by Mulay Ali Ben Rachid and is nestled at the foot of the Rif Mountains.  In 1492, after Spain was taken from the Moors by the Christians, it resulted in expulsion of the Jews who fled to Morocco and established their own area in Chefchaouen.  Some believe it was the Jewish settlers who brought with them their tradition of painting buildings blue.  As the Jewish believed that blue was the colour of the sky and divinity and so reminded them of the presence of god.  However, others believe the city is painted blue to repel insects and mosquitoes, similar to what is done in India’s blue city, Jodphur. So why the city is blue is open to interpretation.

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Is it blue because of the Jewish influence or to deter flies and mosquitoes

Foreigners, especially Christians were forbidden from entering the city with the threat of death, until 1920 during the Spanish occupation.  Rumour our has it that the city was so isolated from foreigners that they were speaking a 15th century version of Spanish. 

The exodus of Jewish families to Israel followed WWII, however the painting of the city blue continued by the Moroccan Berbers.  Today the government supplies both the blue paint and the brushes to keep the tradition alive.  A local guy I spoke to said they repaint the buildings about every 3 months, because apparently the paint wears off with the rain.  Another artist told me that the crushed indigo powder is mixed with water to make the paint.

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The crushed blue indigo powder is mixed with water to paint the houses and floors.

Chefchaouen is filled with very narrow, mainly pedestrian roads that are cobbled.  Most of the houses are painted either fully or partially blue as are the doors, many of which are also decorated.  The overall effect is a beautiful city where surprises await around every corner, whether its a vendor selling baskets, rugs or other trinkets or some beautiful archway leading elsewhere. There are many stores selling different sweets, like cookies, chocolates various mini-slices, I think we have managed to try everything over the past couple of days from one ladies little shop.

Just a few of the beautiful doors throughout the city

Chefchaouen is a lovely place to spend a day or two to explore the city.

The Beautiful, blue city of chefchaouen.

Volubilis

Volubilis was the capital of the Roman province of Mauritania (Land of the Moors), Rome’s southwestern most city in Northern Africa, approximately 2 000 years ago. Volubilis is surrounded by some of Morocco’s most fertile plains and supported by two river systems, which aided the population of around 20 000 people who were responsible for farming wheat, as was ordered by Rome. 

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Volubilis remained part of the Roman Empire until the end of the 3rd century, when it fell into the hands of Berbers, Greeks, Syrians and Jews.  By the end of the 8th century Idris I, believing to be a direct descendant of Mohammed, turned Volubilis into the birthplace of Islam for the area.  Volubilis was abandoned in the 18th century, when a lot of its buildings were destroyed by the Lisbon earthquake and the city was sacked and the marble taken to build the palaces in Meknes. 

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At the entrance you are given a map and it is advised to follow the circuit on a clockwise direction once you pass the visitor center.

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House of Orpheus

As you enter the site you will pass lots of small ruined houses, the largest in this area and identified with a sign, is the House of Orpheus.  This house is remarkable because of three fantastic mosaics that housed inside the ruin.  The first is of nine dolphins, which symbolize good luck, the second mosaic and my favourite is of Orpheus, who the house is named after, charming animals with his lyre.  The final mosaic is Amphirite in her sea drawn chariot.

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We left the House of Orpheus and headed north past the baths and olive press ,to the houses of public life. 

Houses of Public Life

The wide-paved street leads up to the public life buildings which include the Capitol, the Basilica, and the Forum which are all found on the street Cardus Maximus, the main east–west street. 

The basilica from many different angles.

The Capitol building

Arch of Caracalla

The Arch of Caracalla sits above the olive groves and fertile plains and is considered the center of the ancient Roman site of Volubilis.  The arch is also located at the end of the Decumanus Maximus, which is the main north-south road.  The arch was built in 217 AD and destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake in 1755, before it was restored to its former glory in 1932. The arch is named after the Emperor of the time, Caracalla.  Interestingly only one side of the arch, the east side, is decorated and is supported by marble columns. 

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The above photo is of the decorated side of the arch (east side) while the photo below is the undecorated side.

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We continued along the Decumanus Maximus stopping to look at the various archways, columns and mosaics.

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House of Hercules (Also on the right hand side of the Decumanus Maximus)

The house of Hercules is named after the beautiful floor mosaic which illustrates the labours of Hercules.  Most of the mosaic is in excellent condition and Max recognised quite a few of the mythical characters like Cerberus. 

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On the right hand side of the Decumanus Maximus are a few more houses with mosaics to explore.

House of the Bathing Nymphs (right hand side of the Decumanus Maximus)

Named after the beautiful mosaics of beautiful naked nymphs.

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Next door to the House of Bathing Nymphs is another room filled with a beautiful mosaic of Hylas being abducted by nymphs.  Those naughty nymphs, getting up to all sorts of mischief.

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The site is extensive and some of the houses containing mosaics can be difficult to see among the grass and flowers, but if you have a guide or are lucky enough to find them they are very beautiful.

Tourist Information for Volubilis

Opening Hours:

  • Open from 8.30 am until sunset

Price:

  • Entrance to site is 70 DH for ages 13 years and above/ 30 DH for 12 years and under

Other information:  There is a small shady café built around a tree near the car park, for drinks, snacks, and more substantial bites. There is an information centre which I believe is relatively new.

 

Fez – Chouara Tannery – 15/1/2019

We used google maps to navigate us through the maze of streets to the Chouara Tannery, which is both the oldest and largest of the three tanneries in Fez and we almost got there on our own. A local restaurant-er took us the final street to get there.

The Fez tannery is one of the most visited sights in Fez and has been around since the 11th century, so a bit over 1000 years. We were taken inside a leather shop and up several flights of stairs to reach a balcony overlooking the vats.  We were given some time to photograph the tannery, before our guide gave us a brief explanation of the tannery and dyeing process.  I will admit that I have a terrible sense of smell, so I didn’t find it too bad, however Andrew and the kids thought it was a very potent smell and were glad to leave it behind us.

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During the first step of the process that animal hides, which are either cow, goat or sheep are drenched in cow urine, lime, salt and water.  The purpose of this is to remove the fat, flesh and hair.  Sheep hides remain soaking for 2 to 3 days and then the tanners use a knife to scrape off the hair fibers that remain before dyeing. 

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Top photo shows the dying vats on the left and the white vats which contain the cow urine, lime, salt and water on the right.  Below is the tanner removing the remaining hair from the sheep skins.

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The skins are then soaked in further vats containing water and pigeon excrement.  The pigeon excrement contains a lot of ammonia, which softens the leather and helps it to absorb the dye. Tanners use their feet to kneed the animal skins in the vats for up to three hours, to help make the leather soft. 

The skins are then left to dry before being washed and separated into piles to be dyed in different colours.

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The clay vats contain different coloured dyes, all are natural.  The colours are acquired from plants and trees, red is from the poppy flower, cedar trees are used for brown, mint provides the green colour, indigo gives the blue colour, henna is used for orange and saffron for the yellow colour. The skins are placed in the vats to soak, twice.  The tanners use either their hands or feet to push the skins down into the vats and to move them around.  The guys in the vats had either waders or some sort of leg coverage over their regular clothes to protect them from the dye.  Apparently the job of a tanner is well paid and sort after.

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The final step involves hanging the leathers on washing lines in rooms, walls or on the roof.  They are then sold to merchants who turn them into shoes (babouche), bags, jackets and ottomans. 

While I had read tripadvisor reviews and blogs that had said they received constant hassle to visit a tannery, we were only approached once.  There was no real pressure to purchase, but we did wander the store briefly. As we left the leather shop that we had visited to see the tannery, my husband offered the guy some money for showing us the terrace and explaining the process, but he politely refused.  So we had a good experience, despite the smell.

More information on the tannery can be found by following the link Chouara Tannery.

 

Sunset Camel Ride, Merzouga

We did our drive from Fez to Merzouga over two days, stopping in Midelt overnight.  The roads are single lane with no guard rails and you are going over mountain ranges with the constant need to overtake slow going cars and trucks, where visibility is minimal and this makes driving dangerous.

After arriving in Merzouga we were all starving and so we stopped at Cafe Nora for a Berber pizza, before going to our hotel for a short break before our sunset camel ride.

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We organised our camel ride through the hotel we were staying at, La Vallee des Dunes.  Our camels and guide met us across the road from the hotel at about 5 pm and then we headed into the Erg Chebbi dunes which is part of the Sahara Desert.

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Our guide was lovely and treated the camels well.  Ava’s camel kept creeping closer to me so I would rub her head as we were riding and Max’s camel did the same with Ava, which I think was a good sign that they are treated well.  The guide asked for my camera and took photos of all of us on the camels, which I really appreciated.  It is actually quite hard being in the lead and trying to take photos behind you, while moving.

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After riding for about 45 minutes we stopped at the base of a dune for the sunset.  We left the camels and our guide recovering, while we climbed up the large dune.  I have to say it gave me a real appreciation for the guide, because I didn’t realise how bloody hard it is to walk in the sand.  When Andrew and I finally reached the top, well after the kids, we just sat down and admired the dunes until the sunset.

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After the sunset we rode back to the hotel admiring the final light over the desert.  We chose not to stay in the desert and we were thankful, as it was freezing cold.  

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Todra and Dades Gorges – 18/1/2019

We left Merzouga behind with the heater turned up high to try to warm up, its winter and freezing.  After refueling with diesel we began a 2 hour drive to Todra Gorge.  We had no sooner began our journey, when we were forced to stop.  You have heard of a zebra crossing, but have you heard of a camel crossing?  Well today we did.

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Driving to and from Merzouga we passed several herds of roaming camels, today was a group of about 6 or 7 camels, who decided the grass was greener on the other-side.  We didn’t mind stopping and taking a few photos while we were at it.

Today’s drive took us to Morocco’s smaller versions of the Grand Canyon, Todra and Dades Gorge. While Todra Gorge is generally more about the mass organised tourism, Dadès Gorge is visited by more independent travelers.  That being said we are here in January and it is winter and very few tourists around.  We pretty much had the place to ourselves.

We reached the town of Tinerhir and then began the 15 km, winding uphill route through oasis of date palm, pomegranate, fig and olive trees, some less than 100 feet wide between the two cliffs.  The gorge was created by water erosion by the Todra River, which also feeds the vegetation that makes up the Todra Oasis.  The gorge area has been  inhabited for centuries by the Aït Atta tribe of Berbers.

Near the spring area there are hiking trails, climbing and souvenir vendors, but also a picturesque landscape.

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After a quick Moroccan soup break  at Boumalne du Dades, we began our ascent up the narrow roadways, headed for Dades Gorge where we would stop halfway for the night.  The route takes you past kasbahs, some now abandoned with the backdrop of emerald green oasis or wind-sculpted geological formations. 

While we have had very little hassle throughout Morocco so far, today we did and by the pint sized version, yes kids.  We stopped so I could take a few photos and while I did, we had about 5 or 6 kids run downhill towards us.  This is not an unusual occurance and they usually greet you, sometimes ask for money or a pen.  I quickly found myself surrounded by kids who all wanting money, food or drink.  I quickly made my way back to the car and while I got the car door open, a young very persistant boy of about 5 years old was trying to grab things out of my side of the car.  I managed to squeeze myself in,  but he wouldn’t let me shut the door.  I kept saying no, no and Andrew repeated the same thing, but he didn’t give up.  Eventually I got my door shut.  Unfortunately, had they been polite about it, I would have given them something, but the pushing and snatching left a bad taste in my mouth and a reluctance to stop again.

We arrived at our accommodation for the night, Auberge Kasbah Ait Marghad and while Andrew recovered from 5 hours of driving, the kids and I went for a short walk across a bridge to a small village set among the rock formations.  The backdrop was beautiful even in the winter.  

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Our host had given us directions and I must say I was floored at how amazing it was.  It was not one, but a few small villages made of the traditional Berber mud brick homes, but there were also many abandoned kasbahs and all of this set among the stunning rock formations. We passed many local women who were all very friendly and said ‘Bonjour’ to us. It was an amazing experience, definitely away from the tourist beaten track.

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Andrew found a local restaurant not far from where we were staying for dinner and so we set off, all feeling quite hungry.  We stopped at a lookout to take a few photos at sunset. 

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Unfortunately as it is not peak tourist time, we ended up driving half an hour back down to the start of the gorge to find something open for dinner.  It was not only a long wait for dinner, but the food was very disappointing.  Can’t win them all I guess.

Dades Gorge – 19/1/2019

We headed up to Dades Gorge, passing beautiful kasbahs on the way, one particular derelict kasbah, I had tried to photograph from the opposite side yesterday, but the light was all wrong, however it looked spectacular this morning.

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The gorge drive really begins where the Dades River runs between the two canyon walls and from there you drive up a series of hairpin turns through a 5 km drive to reach the small village of Aït Hammou. 

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The drive is not only astoundingly beautiful through the gorge, but looking at the gorges water and wind eroded sides certainly makes you marvel at nature’s allure. That being said, driving is not easy with the narrow roads, tight turns and only a few guard rails stopping you from plummeting to a certain death.

 

Unfortunately what goes up must come down and so after reaching Msemrir you have to turn around and follow the same route down.  After marveling at the rock formations on the way up, I admired the little villages set throughout the gorge on the way down.

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As you reach the bottom again, you meet the Dades River and the two canyon sides which it flows through.

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I would highly recommend a trip to Dades Gorge, but keep in mind the time that google maps says, is severely underestimated, I think it took us about 45 minutes from the river at the bottom to reach Msemrir at the top.  We were there in January and you do need to watch the weather, snow is forecast for tomorrow and that would make driving pretty hazardous.  

Atlas Studios – 20/1/2019

We woke up to the howling wind and the rattle of windows at the kasbah we stayed at and it improved little throughout the day.  The drive to Atlas Studios was through a sand storm with the wind pushing the car around on the road. The wind continued throughout our visit to the studios, whipping our hair around and blowing sand in our eyes and ears, you can understand why they wear the turbans.

I loved the studios, there are no rides, special effects or characters dressed in costumes like at Universal Studios. The site does however have the sets that were constructed for different Hollywood movies like The Mummy, Gladiator, Prince of Persia, Kingdom of Heaven, King Tut, Black Hawk Down, Kundun and many more.  Its amazing to think these sets made from plaster, fiberglass, wood or polystyrene that look so real were constructed anywhere from months to years and some of them were only used for a matter of minutes in a film.

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We had a guide named Abdul who took us through the studios and we were the only ones there. I saw some camels and horses being ridden in the distance and Abdul took us over to have a look.  Apparently there is a new American film being produced there starting in February, about the war in Baghdad and they are currently training the horses and camels for it.  I commented about a couple of the camels looking almost white and Abdul told us they were brought from Mali for the Prince of Persia movie and they stayed.  

We moved on to the Egyptian set inside the studio that was used for Cleopatra, the Mummy and the french comedy, Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra.  The set was based on the Luxor Temple.  It looked a little different from the Luxor Temple we saw in Egypt. where the paint was almost non-existent, but it looked pretty cool.

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There are also several outdoor Egyptian sets, one is representation of Karnak Temple and the other was used in the Mummy, but I’m not sure what temple it represents.

This set was used in ‘The Mummy’

Karnak Temple – The top left hand picture is our guide Abdul

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We also visited a set with lots of small rooms representing a kasbah that has been used in many movies from Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem to where the slaves were sold in Gladiator and where they were kept prior to going into the Coliseum. 

The final set we visited was for the movie, ‘The Kundun’, about the Dali Lama.  I have not seen the movie, but apparently the set at Atlas Studios and another scene shot in the Atlas mountains, makes up about 10 minutes in the movie.  The set itself took months to make. The large wat at the front is made of polystyrene and the statues are made from fiberglass.

We wandered back to the beginning of the studios to look at the small props used in various movies.  I came out of the bathroom to discover Andrew riding the chariot from the movie Ben Hur, reenacting the scene. There is also the massive prop plane that was used in the 1985 movie for the ‘Jewel of the Nile’ and a variety of vehicles from the movie ‘Black Hawk Down.’

Tourist Information for Atlas Studios

Opening Hours:

  • October – February │ 8.15 am – 5.15 pm
  • March – September │ 8.15 am – 6.45 pm

Price:

  • Adult: 50 Dhs │ Children (6 – 12 years): 40 Dhs │ Children (1 – 5 years): free
  • Group rates (10+ people): Adult: 40 Dhs │ Children (6 – 12 years): 40 Dhs │Children (1 – 5 years): free

Contact Information:

Guides:

Although trip advisor says that the guide is included, when we asked about it, we were told that it is not true, if you want a guide you have to pay extra and they are near the entrance to the studios.  As we approached the studio gate, Abdul came up to us.  It cost us 100 DH or 10 euros for an hour tour and I think it was worth it.  You can go through the studio by yourself but I think Abdul explained so much about the sets, the movies and what extras he had done that it makes it worth having a guide.

Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou – 20/1/2019

We continued on from Atlas Studios to the town of Ait Ben Haddou, where we will stay for two nights.  After a quick bite to eat, we wandered down from our kasbah, across the bridge to the Ksar.  We wandered the bottom street from one end to the other, while I got a few photos.  By this stage the kids weren’t particularly interested and decided to go back to the hotel and we decided we really wanted a guide to tell us more about this famous place. 

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After asking in a hotel, they organised for Mohammed to take us on an hour long tour.  Mohammed is a fabulous guide, who actually spent some of his youth living in Ait Ben Haddou, until his family were given the opportunity to move to new living quarters across the river, on the new side of Ait Ben Haddou.  As Mohammed explained, back when they moved, the ksar had no electricity, toilets or water, so it was a big improvement of living to move.

You may wonder why its called the Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou and not a kasbah.  Apparently a Ksar is more like a fortified village, whereas a Kasbah is generally a large home of a wealthy family and has a tower on each corner of it.  A kasbah is also built with defensive purposes, no windows down low, towers to lookout for attacking Berber tribes and stairs which enable the home owner to be able to sword fight an incoming enemy.

Some of the buildings in the Ksar

Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou dates back to the 12th century and the original construction was at the top of the hill, now only one storage are exists up there.  The Ksar has an interesting population, although originally settled by the Berbers, after WW2 a number of Jewish families relocated there, although many left in the early 1960s.  Later the Arab population also moved into the area.  Today only 8 families still live in the Ksar, but that is changing.  When UNESCO named it a world heritage site it added the bridge which allowed the Berber people access in the raining season to leave the Ksar.  UNESCO is also renovating some of the homes, but it is a very slow process and takes about 4 years to complete a house and they generally do 4 – 5 houses every 5 years.

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The views are amazing overlooking the river.  If you look closely you can even see the sand storm over the river.

Ait Ben Haddou has been used for over 40 films, documentaries and TV series, like Gladiator and Game of Thrones.  The only condition of using the place, is that it has to be restored to its original condition when finished.  So while they may spend months building a set, once they have finished filming its torn down in a matter of weeks.

We wandered through some homes that are now derelict and may have the opportunity to be renovated in the future, before heading to the top of the Ksar.  There is only one building remaining at the top now, but before each family would have had a building up there.  The purpose of the building was store your provisions.  When the caravan route came through, each family took turns in standing guard over the buildings holding the provisions.  Andrew stayed below talking to Mohammed. while I climbed to the top.  When I reached the last step to the top the wind actually nearly blew me off, it was so strong.  I had to crouch down and creep to hide behind the building, it was actually a little scary. The wind was so strong I couldn’t hold the camera still to get a photo, so I had to wait until I got back down.

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Mohammed took us to look inside his families home.  Although his house has a beautiful view with breezes, it also has cracks in many of the walls and sinking floors and so is unsafe to live in. His family is hoping that UNESCO will renovate their home in the next couple of years and then Mohammed or one of his brothers would move back there.  In Berber society the extended family usually live in the same house.

The above photos are of Mohammed’s family home and the photo below is of the house next door which has already been renovated.

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Mohammed took us inside a Berber home and explained that with the older generation, the girls did not receive an education and so their life revolved around the home and they have developed great skill with making woolen rugs.  Many of the homes also keep animals like goats and chickens in mud fenced pens.  The larger kasbahs would have kept their animals in the ground floor and would live in the floors above.  Not too sure about the smell?

 We wandered through the streets with shops either side, before reaching the riverbank and taking a last few pictures, before saying goodbye to Mohammed.

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We were a little tangined out and decided we would have something more western for a change.  The kids went for Moroccan tacos and we decided on pizzas.  While waiting, I popped back to the riverbank as the sun was setting to get one last picture, well at least for today.

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Tourist Information for Ait Ben Haddou

Entrance into Ait Ben Haddou is free, although we are told that there are some hustlers that will try to charge you 10 DH entrance.  We organised 120 DH for our guide for our tour as it went for nearly two hours we ended up giving him 150 DH, which we felt was a fair price. Early morning or later in the afternoon the site has far less tourists as the day trippers from Marrakesh or those passing through to Merzouga haven’t arrived yet.

The Route of a Thousand Kasbahs – 21/1/2019

We were unable to visit the kasbahs around Skoura yesterday as there was a sandstorm, so today we retraced our steps back there.  Skoura is one of the areas encompassed in the route of the thousand kasbahs, a section of 230 km between Quarzazate and Goulmima that includes the valleys and palm plantations in between and includes Todra and Dades Gorges and Ait Ben-Haddou.

Well I will start by saying that no, we did not see a thousand kasbahs, just a few.  Today we visited one of the more famous ones, Kasbah Amerhidil.  In fact Kasbah Amerhidil is so famous it was featured on the 50 Dirham note until not long ago and has been used as a backdrop in the movie Lawrence of Arabia.

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Kasbah Amridil was originally constructed in the 17th century by the Nassiri family, who originated Saudi Arabia. The Nassiri family still own the kasbah and occupy part of it. 

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On approaching the kasbah we had a motorcyclist overtake us and then direct us into the carpark and we knew what was coming, ‘I can show you around’.  We hesitantly agreed a price and headed off.  Our guide, although enthusiastic, did not speak great English and the kids and I at times struggled to understand him.

Our guide began by showing us through the museum section of the Kasbah, where they have oil presses, grinders and various tools on display.  One of the more interesting things on display was a water bottle, made from the body of the sheep, the neck being the part that the water was poured from.  Another interesting tool is the lock and key found on the kasbah doors.  Its hard to explain, but the key generally has a number of rods sticking up from it and it coincides with either the number of people in your family, according to our guide yesterday or our guide today said the number of children in your family.  The lock has the same number of holes and as the key is inserted in the lock it opens the door. 

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There are a number of kitchens that we visited throughout the kasbah on different floors and all had the oven where the bread is cooked.  On the oven top is a hole and apparently they put the tangine dish over that hole and I guess its steamed.

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We continued on up through the kasbah stopping to look at more kitchens, school rooms where kids attended to learn the Koran and even a room which was used to make the call to prayer.  After learning the traditional ways of the kasbah, we climbed the stairs to the top of the fortification.  The top part is probably my favourite, with all the intricate designs and symbols carved into the mud bricks. 

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Interestingly enough, every symbol has some sort of meaning, whether it be the family name or as in the photo below, the eye which is to ward off evil. 

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Our guide also explained that at the top of the towers on Kasbahs is often a symbol similar to stairs.  Apparently as the kasbah was on the caravan route, by displaying this stair like symbol it told the passing caravans that they were welcome to stay.  Similarly along the desert route would have been a stair like object to direct the caravans to the kasbahs.

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The rooftop affords views over not only oasis of date palms, but of other kasbahs in the area.

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After we completed our tour of the Kasbah, our guide wanted to take us to a spot about 10 minutes away for a panoramic photo and mint tea.  The panoramic shot was about a minute walk and from there we crossed a dry riverbed.  Apparently in February and August the river gets to a meter in height, hard to believe from the photo of the dust bowl below.

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The panoramic photo of the kasbah and below is the dry riverbed

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We walked passed gardens growing beans, alfalfa, couscous and the date palms, eventually ending up in….. a carpet store.  We had managed to avoid it thus far in our trip, but I guess it was inevitable.  Its one of those awkward moments when the sales guy eagerly starts pulling out his rugs and layering them over the floor, despite you telling him that we don’t have a house, we don’t have floors and we live on a boat, but the rugs keep on flowing.  You feel bad because he is desperately trying to sell you a rug and it is not the tourist season, so he is pushing so he can feed his family, while you have no where to put a rug at home or in your back pack.  I’m afraid we did not buy a rug, but we did have mint tea and left on friendly terms.

We walked back to the kasbah with our guide, who was less enthusiastic now as there was no carpet sale, but nevertheless we thanked him and were ready to get going again. But not before a quick photo snap of a cute donkey and camel tied up at the kasbah.

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We headed back to our kasbah in Ait Ben Haddou and I couldn’t resist going for a final walk up to a viewpoint just near our kasbah for some more photos.  It is a beautiful site.

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Tourist Information for Kasbah Amerhidil

Price for entry into the kasbah is 20 dirham.  If you want a guide you have to negotiate the price, we paid 100 dirham.