A Day in Morocco with Bec (Part Two)
Here in Morocco, we’ve been busy working with a local community outside of Azrou in the Atlas Mountains. We have been staying in the homes of Artisan women and welcomed with incredible warmth and hospitality.
But before we made the trip to their village, we stopped in a few cities along the way – to get a taste of that modern Morocco life.
We are woken by the echoes of prayer; the majority of Morocco’s population are Muslim, so this is an important part of their day. Not all Moroccans pray five times a day, but it’s Mosques are seemingly the only guaranteed structure in each village so it’s definitely the common practice.
9.00am – Breakfast in the hotel is as colourful as you might expect, but there’s nothing more incredible to watch than the quiet, hard work of a woman preparing a local specialty for grilling. She has a peaceful, familiar look on her face because she knows this dough, she cooks her with feelings, not with structure. After placing her hand ever so slightly on the hot plate to check it’s ready, the dough gets flattened and begins its transformation into a tasty, traditional breakfast food.
We get the historic train from Casablanca to Rabat. Locals on the platform are ducking and weaving between others to make it where they’re going. Unsurprisingly, we receive glances of curiosity; six women, five cameras, three laptops, and an unintentional uniform of neutrals and pastels flowing freely. A child is standing beside his mother and turns shy when he notices our attention. Lilli kneels to meet his eyes and offers him a polaroid.
12.00pm - As we approach Kasbah of the Udayas, the midday sun soaks the castle-like structure with a burnt orange glow. Inside the old town, narrow uneven pathways lead us around bends and gradually up toward an open space, with an ocean view spanning the entire coast. Two young boys are playing music from a small speaker, and it echoes across the grounds. They go relatively unnoticed by the locals, but they enjoy the laughs they get from others, including us.
Lunch - We stop at a small café nestled into the old town, down a laneway with no signage. The man approaches us with a full tray of assorted traditional sweets, and gestures for us to take a table. He places the tray in front of us and takes our tea orders, whilst having an entirely Arabic conversation with a colleague at the same time. It must be a trendy place to hang out, because it’s filled with young people and couples, whispering to each other and sharing the stunning view.
2.30pm - Jarjeer Donkey Sanctuary
On arrival at the Jarjeer Donkey Sanctuary, we are greeted with wonderful smiles and hugs from the beautiful owner who radiates kindness.There are around 50 donkeys on the property, each with a unique, but equally harrowing story of rescue. Some are missing body parts, but all are very friendly and crowd us for pats. Lula explains the stories of each of the donkeys to us, and we watch a colourful, chaotic storm roll over the distant Atlas Mountains as the sun begins to go down.
5.30pm – Back at the hotel, we’re re-charging and resting our eyes. But it’s worth finding a spot on the terrace overlooking the sea of old buildings, the skyline dotted with satellite dishes and silhouettes of circling birds, against the backdrop of a slow ensuing sunset.
7.30pm – Moroccans eat three main meals a day, but turns out they also have tea with bread, olive oil, jam, pastries and cake, in the morning and afternoon. We find out that their dinner tends to fall around 10.30pm. Unsurprisingly, we dine in near-empty restaurants in the evening at our usual dinner time, where we order from the menu, usually consisting of tagine or cous cous in various flavours.
8.30pm – The market near our Riad…
is still bustling; everything is on offer, from donkey rides to passionfruit. Smoke from the meat stall rises above the scene, and the sound of a busker and his drum echoes across the plaza into the darkness of the night.
10pm – Before we head back to our hotel, we visit a well-known rug store, owned by Abdu and his father.
Karin from Fair Fabrics is very familiar with Abdu, so we watch as they excitedly greet each other with hugs. Inside his store, there is a very extensive range of rug styles, shapes and colours. Karin calls it the ‘museum’. Piled sky high and surrounded by tea pots and other vintage homewares, the rugs have been sourced from many cooperatives in Morocco and all over the world. We stay long enough to be offered tea and hear beautiful stories about the collection.
11pm – Back at the hotel, it’s difficult to get straight to sleep because our minds are racing from the incredible things we’ve seen, heard and tasted that day. So, we spend some time drawing, writing or decorating our Manifesto, to ensure we don’t forget any of the precious moments so far.