Morocco: a day with Ahmed's family in the countryside

After 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 more space. 
A dangerous ride brought us to a regional soukh
PHOTO 1, 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.
2, Ahmed is the man in the middle wearing a cap. We bought vegetables PHOTO 3 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 4  
We were guests of Ahmed's cousin Bouzjei and his family PHOTO 5-12 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 creature sits inside during the day; the men talk endlessly, drinking tea and enjoying the goodies that are served by the women.
Bouzjei's 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.

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