having spent a few days in and around El Jadida, Ahmed
took us to his family in the countryside. First we went by “grand
taxi” to the soukh. A grand taxi is an old Mercedes sedan, which offers place
to 7 persons: the driver plus 2 passengers in the front, and 4 on the back
seat; you pay per seat so you can also hire the complete taxi and enjoy
A dangerous ride brought us to a regional soukh PHOTO
where farmers sell their fruit & veg and cattle (meat). The market is
covered with tents and this is quite necessary, because more inland the
heat is overwhelming (40-45°C).
In the tea tent we met some of hundreds
of Ahmed's friends and relations. PHOTO
Ahmed is the man in the middle wearing a cap. We bought vegetables PHOTO
and meat for the couscous, and left for the farm in a mule driven cart,
which was quite a bumpy ride on the stone covered track. It was great fun,
especially the manoeuvres of carts that were overtaking each other. PHOTO
were guests of Ahmed's cousin Bouzjei and his family PHOTO
Their kindness and hospitability! We communicated through Ahmed (who
speaks French), with some Arab words and hand and feet. The openness and
friendship were overwhelming. A "civilized" European might
believe that these people haven't got much. In a materialistic way this
might be true but they have a good heart, which is reflected by their
beautiful faces, their wonderful eyes and they simply radiate happyness. Their
animals are very well fed and kept, and their stables are cleaner and much
cosier than many stable we saw in Europe. How they do it without
electricity and running water, is their art of living.
In winter they work on the land, cultivating grain. They also have milk
cows, chickens, sheep, donkeys and a horse. During summer, they
don't work on the land; only the care for the animals. Early morning (at
5) they are led outside for a few hours, and during daytime they are kept inside to pretect them from the heat. In the afternoon, when the
temperature drops a little, they go out for another walk. Every living
inside during the day; the men talk endlessly, drinking tea and enjoying the
goodies that are served by the women.
family consists of a father, mother and 6 children, of whom 4 girls. The
two eldest girls have left home already and the third daughter (Imen, 17)
runs the house and looks after the younger kids. Because one is aware of how her
future will be and because she is such a nice, goodlooking and also
intelligent girl, you easily find it a pity that this woman has got no chances at
all to develop herself. But this is the way things are and it won't change
in the near future.
The women are working all day. Approximately 10 times a day tea is served;
breakfast twice, lunch twice (the second lunch is couscous or a
tajine) and in the evening another tajine. Every meal starts with washing your
hands, so Imen comes with the water kettle and a towel. This ritual
repeats after each meal. Getting water (from the well), cooking (on a wood
fire), washing the dishes, cleaning... the women have the special talent to do
it unnoticed and the house looks spic & span.
In the evening, the whole family sits outside on carpets and blankets.
Some candles are lit, you see some sheep and lambs in the background... it was just as if
we were sitting in a stable in Bethlehem some 2000 years ago.
We stayed overnight and were only allowed to leave
after we promised solemnly that we would return in two weeks.