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Exploring a Berber mountain village in the Tighza Valley, Morocco

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It is so easy to visit Morocco without gaining insights into rural Moroccan life. If your travels take you to Morocco chances you will find cities like Casablanca, Fez, Rabbat and Marrakech included in your itinerary. While it is exciting to explore these Moroccan cities a visit to a small mountain town in the Atlas Mountains is a fascinating experience. Not only would it be a fascinating visit but also it is a good introduction to life in rural mountain villages. We were fortunate that our tour included two nights in a Berber village in the Tighza Valley (for a description of Tighza Valley see Rachel Ferchak's article).

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Arriving late on a Monday afternoon (5:15 p.m.) in November we walked one and half-hours to our guest house (gife) when we would spend the next two nights. Given that sun sets around 5:30 p.m. at this time of the year it got dark quickly. Equipped with only a torch/flashlight to light my way, as we walked along a mountain road to our guesthouse, Riad Kasbah Oliver, I was so happy when I arrived that evening. Fortunately there were mules to carry our bags and a few travelers who were not feeling up to a one and half hour walk. Yes, traveling does sometimes take its toll on some weary travelers.

After arriving at Kasbah Oliver and resting a little it was time for dinner. During our visit we ate some typical Moroccan dishes prepared us. Dinner the first evening began with soup, followed by Tejine (both vegetarian and meat) and ended with fruit (bananas and apples) and Berber tea. The second evening the main course for dinner was spaghetti, not a typical Moroccan dish. Breakfasts included a variety of drinks, such as instant coffee and teas. There were with pancakes with jams, yogurt and hot porridge. In fact Kasbah Oliver’s breakfast offered more options than many of the hotels along our route. Lunch was pasta with vegetable dishes, chicken. There was also fruit and Berber tea.

During our stay we did a four-hour walk along a mule track through the mountains. We passed fields along the way that were cultivated by Berber women. During our walk it was our opportunity to see first hand some of rural life in the Atlas Mountains. Along the route we met shepherds bring their baby goats to market. Throughout the Tighza Valley shepherds can be seen tending to their flocks of sheep and goats. Also, along our walk we saw Berber homes constructed from local rocks. These homes provide excellent insulation from the heat in summer and the cold in winter.

After breakfast the second morning we retraced our steps along the mountain road back to our van. While our visit was brief we gained insights that most visitors to Morocco never experience. If your travels take you to Morocco it is well worth including in that experience time in a rural mountain village. I invite you to join me in my travels in Morocco and elsewhere in search of the best in Spaswinefood. You may also visit my travel column at the Examiner.

© Sharon Parsons

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