Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A day in the desert

Two of our party are not so good this morning.  We were warned not to eat the fresh salads served as entree to every restaurant meal here.  We all broke the rule yesterday and really enjoyed the fresh salad platters served at lunch on the long drive to Merzouga. Jennie and Maxie are paying the price today.  Jennie has decided to rest and Maxie is taking it very slowly.

I realise we are in the heart of Morocco in this region.  It is the home of Rachid's Berber people and also the home base of the Alaouit people from whom Morocco's current king traces his lineage.  We visited the Ksar (fortress) El Frida this morning, built in the 1600s for the Alaouit Sultan, his four wives and entourage of servants and slaves.  The Alaouit people, in turn, trace their lineage back to the Prophet Mohammed.

Descendants of the slaves of the court look after the fort to this day, maintaining it spare working order. The site's best income comes from film production companies when it is used as a film set.

A short visit to the gardens of the nearby mosque was a welcome respite from the heat and glare of this desert environment.
 We love dates - and it is date season here - they are ripening rapidly!
Next stop was back to the small town of Rassini to visit one of the biggest, busiest souks of the region. Rachid assures us it hasn't changed all that much since Medieval times!

Nothing about the date palm trees is wasted.  These baskets are woven from the leaves.

The meat hall was quite confronting - especially for Maxie fighting off her tummy upset. Rachid tells us that men are the meat shoppers because "they know everything about animals".

This is the "car" park for the Rissani Souk. It's a hard life in the desert for people - and especially for donkeys! 

Our next stop is at a village where a tribe of African people (former slaves in a past life) all live.  Here we were treated to an amazing performance of  traditional Gnoaua music (a form of Sufi music) - just another one of the amazing experiences we have been presented with on this tour. 

We had lunch in the same village - a form of African Calzone, rice and vegetables and mint tea with oranges and dates for dessert...beautiful!

We got talking to the guests at the next table (Israelis) and one of them kindly offered Maxie a big spoonful of cummin (a cure all for tummy upsets apparently).
I laughed to see how far the Trip Adviser tentacles have reached...this place is rated 5 stars!

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