Morocco – The Most Incredible Day!

What, you might ask,  constitutes this day in Morocco as the Most Incredible Day?

The short answer is human connection.

What made this day so memorable was that we were given an opportunity to meet a number of  family members and friends of our guides, leaving us with full hearts & memories that will stay with us for a lifetime.

Driss, our guide, grew up in a small village in the desert.  His heritage is Berber, a heritage he is very proud of & one that has a long & interesting history.  Driss’s mother had graciously offered to host us for lunch, thus giving us the opportunity to meet her & giving her the opportunity to see her son.

We were only too happy to accept her invitation.

Driss had explained to us that when he was 11 years old, his father had died, leaving his mother with 9 children to raise on her own. I can only imagine how overwhelmed she must have felt in those first weeks of losing her husband, figuring out how to manage & provide for her family.  Through hard work, determination & pure grit, they prevailed.

Today, Driss’s mother & his 3 sisters live in a home he built 6 years ago.  At 30 years of age, he carries the responsibility of providing for them, a responsibility he accepts with a calmness & a grace that leaves you feeling such admiration & respect for this young man.

As we drove into his village, we could sense his excitement about being home.  Clearly when we saw the joy & pride on his mother’s face, it was evident the feeling was mutual!

The combination of his job keeping him on the road & the remoteness of his village, prevents him from visiting on a frequent basis.  A trip home is cause for celebration!

driss-his-mom

Driss sharing a moment with his nephew & his Mom.

We were invited to make ourselves at home & enjoyed a wonderful meal his mother & sister had prepared for us.  I am not certain what it was called in Morocco, but we would compare it to what we know as a panzerotti. Unlike the deep-fried ones we are accustomed to, his mothers’ recipe is made from scratch & baked in a fire oven.  Although she now has a more modern oven, Driss explained that her preference still tends to be the old-fashioned way!  It was absolutely delicious!

picmonkey-collage

Ahmed doing a fine job of pouring the mint tea! Us relaxing before lunch. Lunch is served!

For those of you chefs that might be interested, here is the oven that was used to cook our pizza.  Don’t be fooled by the smile on my face for cooking is not my forte!  I had asked Driss to show us how it was done & he wasn’t going to be caught dead posing for a cooking shot, so I was laughing at him!

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I am multi-tasker. Cooking for guests while acting as a photographer!

After our lovely meal, Driss invited us to take a little tour of his village, reminiscing about his life here as a child, & sharing how he loved to run through all of the small little alleyways.

alleyway

I apologise for the blurriness of this shot! I was trying to keeping up so that I didn’t get left behind!

He then took us to see the home where he spent most of his life, up until 6 years ago.  To say that this house was basic by our standards, is an understatement.  As we walked through, we found ourselves speechless.

What we deem to be a necessity in our homes is embarrassing  in comparison.

drisss-house

The house Driss & his family resided in until he built the new one 6 years ago.

After we expressed our heartfelt gratitude & said our goodbyes, we made our way a little further into the desert.  It would be our initial experience at off-roading, where roads don’t really exist.

Along our way, we came across this random little group of camels lined up in the middle of nowhere.  One had tipped over, so Ahmed jumped out to set it upright.

fixing-camels

One of my favourite shots of Ahmed! It depicts him as this mischievous little boy, which is very much a part of who he is!

Our next stop would find us being introduced to a Nomad family living in the desert.  As if anticipating our arrival, we were greeted with enthusiasm & invited into their tent to share a glass of mint tea.  This is common practice in Morocco, a gesture of welcome & friendship.

Whether you are arriving at a hotel, a family home, bartering in a shop or visiting a family in the middle of the desert, you will be offered mint tea.  Moroccans love it with sugar, to have it any other way is considered a tourist version!

With the help of Driss acting as our interpreter on both sides, we engaged in conversation, learning about each others lives, leaving us once again, with such a sense of gratitude for having had this experience.

nomad-1

Reunited with friends! The children were so excited to see Ahmed!

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Zara sharing some pictures of our trip with the children.

One of the things I have learned through travel is that when it gets right down to it, essentially we all want the same things in life.

Regardless of where we come from or what we have,  we are all just people striving to live the best life that we can.

To raise our families in peace, protect them from harm & to seek opportunity where we can, to ensure success,  whatever our definition of success might be.

nomad-3

Part of the family:)

Our last stop on our Most Incredible Day was in Merzouga, where we would take a 1 1/2 hour camel trek into the desert.  At the outset of making the decision to travel to Morocco, the camel trek had been our main incentive, a cross off the bucket list so to speak.

We couldn’t have imagined that this trip would offer us so much more than a simple tick on a bucket list.

camel-trek-1

The turbans Driss purchased for us for our camel trek:)

camel-trek-2

Meeting Youssef’s brother who runs the camel trek operation.

Our bare-footed camel boy guide led us out into the desert, making his was to our camp, where we would spend the night.  I think I can speak for my travel mates when I say that sitting on that camel, looking out across the miles of sand dunes, reflecting on the day we had just experienced, all felt a little surreal.

our-camel-boy

Putting our lives into the hands of this guide! Yeah, we think he was about 12 or 13!!

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Our chariot awaits.

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Off we go!

Arriving at our camp, we were more that delighted with our accommodations.  We had the option of staying out in the desert for the night or being taken to a hotel.  We had opted for what we thought was a very basic camp, one where we expected cots, no running water & most likely a hole the ground as a bathroom.  What we found was a version of a luxurious MASH -like camp, complete with flush toilets & a shower!

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Our camp:)

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Fatima & me…roomies!

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Talk about Al Fresco dining!

If that weren’t enough, we were also provided with fabulous entertainment that evening around an open fire, under thousands of stars.  The musicians were our guides themselves, along with another young man at camp.

Driss appeared with Ahmed in tow, looking very handsome decked out in his Berber desert attire.  So much fun & just more reason these boys became like family to us!

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Driss looked so handsome in his Berber attire. We think he looked like a young Denzel Washington:)

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Our wonderful entertainment!

We are so incredibly grateful for having had this Most Incredible Day & for the families who generously opened their homes to us.  It truly was an unforgettable experience.

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Our view

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Feeling so grateful for this moment shared with such wonderful friends. Sadly Fatima was not in the shot as she was taking the picture.

Have you ever experienced a day like this on your travels?

Hugs,

L

 

 

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21 Responses to Morocco – The Most Incredible Day!

  1. sueslaght says:

    Lynn I have goosebumps. Truly what an extraordinary day. I agree that it is meeting the people of a country that are the most special moments. The colors of your photos, the people, the camels; real and toys, all incredibly astounding.
    To your question …one day while cycling in a remote area of Turkey we took a rest in front of an abandoned building. It was very hot and we sat on rocks by the dilapidated shacks. Then a man and woman in traditional dress came walking down the road. We were sitting in their front yard! Rather than be angry with us they offered us each a small tomato that they had in their bag. Clearly they had so very little but they wanted us to feel welcome at their home. It still chokes me up thinking about it.

    • Lynn says:

      Thank you for sharing your story Sue. I truly feel that if we had more of an opportunity to just sit down with people to exchange ideas & have a better understanding of one another, there would be far less hatred in this world. So sweet that the couple in Turkey offered you tomatoes, I can only hope that we would do the same for someone here in Canada. Travelling has certainly opened my eyes to so many things, my life is richer for it, there is no doubt.

  2. Paul says:

    Fabulous Lynn – the stuff of dreams.

    • Lynn says:

      Thank you so much Paul, for your kind comment. My challenge for this post was communicating the overwhelming gratitude we felt for the families that so generously opened their homes to us & extended such kindness. It will remain with us always:)

  3. Karen says:

    Wonderful journey…

  4. Sue (above) recommended me this post. What an amazing welcome – this is why many of us travel, to get an insight in the day to day lives of people in other places, and to realise what connects us. Your guide brought you all that and random toy camels in a desert. Definitely a trip worth sharing.

    • Oh – followup comment – are you ok if I pin this?

      • Lynn says:

        A warm welcome to you Bronwyn & a big thank you to Sue for the recommendation. I love reading about her travels, I will be certain to check yours out as well.
        Connecting with people in other parts of the world is something that definitely enriches us & teaches us that we are in this together. We all have so many misconceptions about cultures that are so different than the ones we are accustomed to. The beauty of meeting people is in developing a better understanding of who they are & how they live.
        Our guides were so wonderful on this trip. On a number of occasions we felt that they went over & above what was expected of them in order to give us a memorable & authentic experience. We were so touch by their kindness.
        Thanks again for reading, I really appreciate it! Oh, & yes, it is ok to pin this post:)

  5. restlessjo says:

    What an amazing experience you seem to have had, Lynn! So much more than just a holiday.
    I love the shot of you with the pizza oven- what a lovely smile! And that shot of the table in the desert made me smile too. That desert light makes for the most wonderful photographs. Thanks for a lovely share. 🙂

    • Lynn says:

      It was an incredible experience Jo. We learned so much on this trip & the people we met along the way will stay in our hearts for a very long time, I am sure.
      Thank you for kind comments, the desert experience was the end to a very special day:)

  6. Cheryl Marsh says:

    🙂 WOW, so humbling, so inspiring!, great garbs for all, such beauty everywhere.
    tx SO much for sharing your incredible memories!
    cheers, God Bless
    love, c
    ps- we watched a documentary recently on Morocco highlighting the saffron trade.. with Ahmed!.. thought of you & yours

    Cheryl Marsh

    Date: Fri, 30 May 2014 18:11:46 +0000
    To: clmavon@hotmail.com

    • Lynn says:

      It truly was humbling Cheryl, in so many ways. Ahmed is indeed a very popular name, we met a number of them on our trip. Our Ahmed was quite a character, we enjoyed him immensely!

  7. joannesisco says:

    Your photos and the story around them was amazing!! What a very special and touching experience to “get up close and personal” – such a unique opportunity!
    I went on a camel excursion in the Australian Outback and my reaction was the same as yours … that it was very surreal. These are the precious moments!

    • Lynn says:

      Joanne, we felt so grateful for having had the opportunity to get to know these families. I think it is one of the experiences that will stay with me for a lifetime.

      One of the girls I travel with also rode a camel when she was in Australia. I was unaware until then that Australia even had camels. How lucky we are to be able to do these things!

  8. Excellent photos and travel journal – really enjoyed your post… Morocco is someplace I have on my ‘hope to go’ list and it’s now move up in priority!

    • Lynn says:

      Thank you so much. Morocco was such an interesting experience & very different from the travels we have done in the past.

      We rec’d varying opinions when we talked about going there. Some loved it, some did not.

      I think it is one of those destinations that you must have an open mind & understand that the culture is so different then our own.

      I would highly recommend Rough Tours if you go some day, they were awesome & a big part of why we enjoyed the experience so much!

      Thanks again for reading & thanks for the follow! I look forward to reading your blog as well:)

  9. Hi ,

    Thank you so much for sharing with us this great article & amazing pictures about our lovely country 🙂

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