03 May Morocco a Journey of Art and hidden places
Travels thru the crossroads of time with Intricate Weave
|Travels by Intricate Weave|
My travels in Morocco over the past seven years has led to fascinating discoveries . These have included art,textiles, traditions, hidden places and life long friendships with extraordinary people.
Morocco has shown that it is a country of hidden depths. That I am lucky to witness a country caught in the crossroads of time between the modern and the ancient.
Safi is a port city on Morocco’s Atlantic coast and is one of my favorite pottery hunting grounds .The centerpiece of their art focuses on decorated pottery of many hues of colour and design. Its created in workshops in the hillside Colline des Potiers quarter. If colour and original thought is your interest in pottery, Safi is the place to go.
I have spent many hours wandering the hillside watching the pottery process from start to finish. Each part of the pottery process is worked upon by a different artisan.
Weavers and other Artisans
The variety of traditional hand loomed woven textiles is rich and diverse from region to region. The journey has been a delight in the discovery of these captivating intricate textiles. The discovery in the Rif mountains of gaily coloured hand loomed woolen throws with simple tribal symbols was a wonderful addition in my home. The hand-loom thick woolen bed blankets from the fleece of the High Atlas mountain sheep keep the deep cold of the winters away.
I have discovered Gorgeous hand loomed cactus silk/cotton scarves from the old medina in Fes and cotton table runners in Marrakech.
The Sefrou region is famous for creating some of the finest Djellaba buttons. Sefrou’s Jewish residents first introduced the craft in to the region. It became a popular way of women adding additional income for household expenses with the luxury of working from home.
My favorite town for purchasing of rugs is in Southern Morocco in the town of Tazenakht. The variety , quality and price is second to none.
The Art of Mint tea
The sharing of Mint tea is an expression of the warmth of traditional hospitality of Morocco. Its woven into the fabric of everyday life .
The art of haggling with Shopkeepers would not be the same without the tea tradition. Those dainty colourful glasses of frothy mint tea appearing magically on silver trays centered round engraved teapots.
Sitting relaxing in the courtyard of the Riads amongst fragrant filled gardens of citrus with colourful rose petals floating in the fountains. Listening to the call to prayer as dusk descends over Marrakesh. The daily ritual of lighting of the lamps begins intermingled with the pouring of frothy mint tea by the waiter is an experience not to be missed.
Traveling thru the snow clad isolated High Atlas mountains we stop at a lone tea house beside the snowy dirt track, the tea tradition continues.
Off the beaten track
I would recommend visiting the township of Moulay Boulselham on the North Atlantic coast for a few days if you are a keen bird watcher. In the protected lagoon , the varieties of bird life is extraordinary.
For accommodation Vila Bea for myself is a real treat to stay, food exquisite , rooms clean and comfortable. The owners and team cannot do enough to assist you with interesting ideas to complete your day. The views of the rough Atlantic sea from the lounge is mesmerizing , very enjoyable to relax with a Moroccan wine (from their wineries from the north ) at the end of a leisurely day.
Imouzzer des Ida Outanane Region
This area is a great for place for day treks.One trek I find enjoyable is wandering down the mountain passing thru olive groves, small villages to the petrified water fall.
Hotel Des Cascades
I have always enjoyed my stay here, the hotel has basic clean outdated rooms. It is lovely sitting in the evening by the fire in the dining room which keeps away the night chill.The staff are very pleasant and helpful.
Nothing can surpass the ambiance of the outside sitting area with a view overlooking the escarpment to the valley below. It is a magical experience to sit there as dusk descends and the lights begin to twinkle from the valley floor below.
The beautiful gardens and stonework are a visual treat. The hotel is a good base for relaxation and hiking. The Paradise Valley hike is interesting as it meanders alongside the river thru scenic countryside .
Ancient food Gardens
For the horticulturalist there is the ancient food gardens at the village of Inraren. The gardens are centuries old and watered by underground spring water with guidance from centuries of human hands. The garden is farmed by the villagers over 65 acres and very productive. It provides a diverse range of food all year round. Its one of the world’s oldest sustainable systems of agriculture .
The Hidden valley of Zat uses this ancient food garden concept.This valley is a Shangri la area and is very much a hidden treasure off the beaten path. I loved the day hike thru the Zat region it was spectacular and left a big mark on ones soul.
One of my favorite spots is Lake Tislit in the High Atlas mountains. The enjoyment of this simple guest house on the lakes edge is sublime. I have witnessed blizzards of unexpected snow, hot sunny afternoons and crisp early mornings. Further more in the dark of the night have sat gazing at the reflection of the full moon in the depths of the lakes still dark waters.
Milika a berber lady runs the auberge, a very warm kind person with a heart of gold. The serenity and peace of this area soothes the soul. There is nice easy hikes around the lake and onward to the second lake.
The High Atlas mountains is home to a community of nomads who live a a hard life unchanged in hundreds of years.The pattern and flow of the seasons thru the years dictates their lives. I have meet a lady nomad who has birthed numerous times in a simple cave with no running water or electricity. It has been my privilege to be invited to share cups of tea in cave homes and photograph the nomads tending their flocks of sheep
The production of Jewellery in Morocco in the 14th century was carried out by Jewish silversmiths who took refuge in Morocco from Spain after the reconquista in 1492.
Tiznit in Southern Morocco who remains the only link with hand made silver jewelry from ancient times. The techniques that are utilized in their craft are engraving, filigree, relief work and attachment of semi precious stones and beads.
Some interesting ancient jewelry includes the Khamsa’s which are worn on a chain as a pendent. The Khamsa is commonly known as the hand of Fatima and was included into the Islamic faith. In current times they are used as door handles (as in the above picture). Its use is to avert the evil eye and keep the supernatural spirits at bay.