Into the Rif - Part Two.

As we continued our trek up the mountain there were occasional breaks in the rain and as the clouds lifted the view became more and more spectacular. Unfortunately there was still another hour or so of walking but now the path was just below the ridge and mostly out of the chilling wind.

From time to time we came across isolated sheep pens built from adobe and the sheep appeared very pleased to see us - probably expecting to be fed. By this stage however they were in more danger of being on our menu.

Other sheep took one look at us and fled with the young girl herding them chasing in pursuit. We also had a negative effect on a cow who thought we had kefta on our minds.

Finally, we turned a corner and there in front of us was a small adobe house with the biggest view imaginable. From this point it was fortunately slightly downhill and so the final muddy trudge was pure pleasure

As we arrived the woman of the family greeted us warmly and invited us inside. Her children were very shy of us at first, but soon warmed to us as our arrival caused the appearance of bread and mint tea.

Muddy boots and mint tea

And, as it does with Moroccan generosity, the tea and bread soon turned into, eggs, butter, olive oil, bowls of yogurt, olives, more mint tea, glasses of milk and fresh orange juice... oh and then there was cake.

Fortunately Thami was there to assist.

The man of the house and his son both joined us and we suspect it was to make sure we did not leave the table until it was bare - because as he said, " we need it clear for supper later".

Fortunately it was time to have a TV break - power courtesy of a tiny solar panel on the roof that costs the family 100 dirhams per month over many years. When you do the sums, that is an expensive price to pay for watching a black and white screen the size of a small paperback.

Iyeh, sidi! We have TV!

After a lot of food, more food and then talk and mint tea we finally wrapped ourselves in blankets on the floor and slept. It was freezing cold outside, but thankfully the morning brought sunshine and a sky that quickly cleared of almost all but the odd cloud or two.

By the time we arose, the donkeys had already been down the valley to collect drinking water. It used to be for sale quite close to the house but an earthquake last year broke the pipes and the water supply was contaminated. Our hosts insisted that the local mineral water spring was better water anyway - and certainly cheaper.

Most of their produce is for their own consumption though sometimes they sell barley or butter.

This small adobe hut appeared to be the home for dozens of chickens, some of whom joined us for breakfast on the "patio" At least until our host's son spotted them.

Our host arrived with the sheep and soon people were emerging from rooms or from out of the trees. Breakfast became a rather large affair.

We stayed until lunch time and then after another massive meal of milk couscous, bean and lamb tagine and fresh baked bread we saddled up the donkey and began the five and half kilometre trek down off the mountain. Now that the clouds had lifted the views were superb.

Behind us the men had returned to the animals and the fields, while our host's wife, who had cooked and served so much food, stood watching us, waving, until we were out of sight.

It will be a long time until we experience such warmth and hospitality - better than anything a five star hotel can provide.

The last image was a surprise glimpse from the top of the donkey. It shouldn't have been a surprise because of course in this part of the world all scarecrows should wear a traditional djellaba.

The View from Fez would like to express gratitude to Thami for straining his muscles and endurance to the extreme to take us on a visit to his family. Shukran Thami, shukran bizef.


Or go back to PART ONE

all photographs: sandy mccutcheon

1 comment:

Okie said...

I love these photos, it shows the hospitality and kindness of the people of Morocco. I can find photos of the cities of Morocco all over the web, but these are precious.