Morocco – The Valley of Roses, Part 2

A real woman is like a rose – while you pick it, it pricks you with its thorns. This Moroccan saying is used to explain that to win a woman’s affection you have to approach her considerations ever so slowly (chouïa, chouïa) otherwise the conquest will end  in failure 🙂 .The same thing applies when it comes to other spheres of life. It is better to spend some time and  approach goals slowly step by step, rather than do something in a hurry with a poor effect and have to start again. As I mentioned in the first part, Moroccans have a specific approach to time. It was in Morocco, where I learned that it is worth celebrating time in the best sense of the word. I invite you to the second part of the Moroccan story from the Valley of Roses.

 

Tamgallouna

After climbing the mountains of M’goun, we set off towards a small village- Tamgallouna, situated near Boutharar. The road led through captivating poppy fields which are surrounded by brown rocky mountains. On the way, we encountered local people collecting grain.

We continued our trip along the rough mountain trail. The beautiful views were our reward for our efforts and fatigue.

We reached Tamgallouna, where we visited a primary school. Our presence aroused great interest among the children. At the beginning, they answered our questions with shyness. Some of them covered their embarrassed faces with their hands and giggled softly from behind their benches.

The school is divided into two classes; each class has two groups of children of different ages. This means that one teacher has to run two classes at the same time, alternating between groups. One lesson lasts 2 hours, followed by a ten-minute break. Children learn two languages. In the morning they start the day with Arabic and in the afternoonthey continue in French. In the meantime, they learn mathematics as well. Interestingly, in small Moroccan villages, girls usually finish their education with primary school. From the whole class, which amounts to about twenty girls, only two or three girls will continue any further education. The choice of whether a girl will go to school or stay at home belongs to the parents.

After our visit, we gave the school teacher some small gifts such as pens, crayons and balloons. In small villages, access to basic school supplies is very limited.

We said goodbye to the children and moved on towards the M’GounRiver where we took a nap and tasted freshly brewed mint tea, prepared by our good-natured chef- Mohamed.

After a few minutes of blissful silence, from far away we could hear the children laughing and see them holding the colorful balloons in their hands as they returned home from school. At our sight, wide smiles appeared on their faces. At first, they approached us uncertainly, keeping a two-meter distance but after several minutes they approached and didn’t want to leave us! The children were so extremely authentic in showing their emotions. Unfortunately, it was time for us to depart as we had to return to our hostel. Once again, we said goodbye to our young friends. Their hugs and kisses seemed endless and it was  a very moving moment for me.

Next, we went in the direction of Boutharar. This time our guide had prepared for us a slightly more extreme route that passed through the rivers and mountains just to make sure we would not become bored. After passing through several rivers, my white socks changed to a brownish red (unfortunately I was never able to make them regain their original color 😥 ) but it was worth it! At times, I felt like I was taking part in the French adventure and travel program “Koh-Lanta”.

(here right after crossing the river and climbing upwards)

 

Alemdoun and the El Hout Valley

The next morning, we took a local bus to Alemdoun, another small village, located 14 km from Boutharar. Extensive cereal fields spread before our view. Along the way, we encountered local people performing their daily work, such as washing in the river.

Shortly afterwards, we headed towards the El Hout Valley, which is famous for its abundant greenery, as well as its fig and almond groves. The views were wonderful!

After a short break for photos, we continued our trip along the ravines. We come across a flock of sheep grazing peacefully at the foot of a hill. After some time, a group of Moroccan travelers invited us for a cup of mint tea along the river. It was so very nice. Slowly, I started to become accustomed to this Moroccan hospitality and after a few days in Morocco, the fact of having a stranger serve me some tea became a normal occurrence which I became used to.

During our entire ten days stay in the Valley of Roses, we were able to enjoy wonderful weather. However, that was the only afternoon when they announced a downpour and winds would be coming. So, we were in a hurry to return to the village before the storm. Unfortunately, Mother Nature was faster than we were. We were soaking wet on our return but the landscapes more than compensated for our gloomy moods!

 

Moroccan cuisine

After a few days of trekking, it was time for a well-deserved rest. Together with the female members of the family of our host- Mohamed, we were able to participate in the preparation of dinner. Mohamed’s sister taught us how to prepare traditional Moroccan dishes: tajine with vegetables, as well as tajine with chicken and candied onion and raisins. A tajine is a dish named after the earthen pot it is cooked in. Yum-yum! For dessert, we baked very crunchy butter cookies – the absolutely best I’ve ever eaten!

Moroccan cuisine is varied. Their bases are usually vegetables, which are used in many tajines! Moroccan vegetables have a completely different taste than those that I have eaten in Europe, because they are organic. In addition to tajine with vegetables, you can find tajine with egg and beef balls and tajine with chicken or beef. Friday is a holy day and the Moroccans eat couscous for the occasion. While you visit Morocco, you will have the opportunity to also taste chicken or beef on skewersalong with fresh Moroccan salad based on finely chopped cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, onions, lettuce and coriander (I could eat it all the time!). One could say they have a very healthy kitchen. Moroccans, however, have a weakness for sweets! In any bakery you will find very sweet and caloric cookies with a lot of honey, nuts or sesame. I had to stop after one piece. Interestingly, Moroccans like to combine sweet and salty flavors. Harira – a delicious, filling soup containing chickpeasis served with the aforementioned mega sweet cookies. Our guide, Hamid, said he was eating for breakfast bread with olive oil and butter and honey (everything mixed together). I have not tried it, but I think it must provide a good dose of energy 🙂

 

Tabarkacht and the Hdida Valley

After one day of just being lazy, we set off for our last day of trekking around the Hdida Valley- literally called the Valley of Roses. There, we spent the night in Tabarkacht village, to which, to get to, one has to cross a river by a footbridge. I did it very carefully, step by step so as not to fall into the river, while the local children ran over it (well, they are kids …)

I was enchanted by the valley with its lush nature, which perfectly harmonized with the brown mountains and villages.

My favorite photographic object in Tabarkacht, as well as in the other Moroccan villages that I could visit, were the doors. Their bright colors contrasted perfectly with the color of clay. Just look.

 

KelaatM’Gouna and Moussem

On the penultimate day of our stay, we were able to participate in the Rose Festival called Moussem. Actually, it is organized in the second week of May in the city of Kelaat M’Gouna. For three days, from Friday to Sunday, the city organizes numerous performances, presented by Berber musicians and dancers, and it also hosts equestrian shows simulating military attacks. And then there are the fairs, where you can buy local products based on extracts from not only roses. Personally, I bought a wonderful cream with argon oil that perfectly moisturizes the skin and a hair serum with aloevera and some rose water to tone the skin. Each product costs about 3 Euro. Interestingly, 1 kg of roses is used to produce 1 liter of rose water, while for 1 liter of rose oil you need up to 4 tons of rose petals!

 

Ouarzazate and the return home…

Finally, we took the direction towards Ouarzazate, where we spent our last night in the very nice “Dar Farhan” hotel. In the afternoon, we went for a walk around the city and did shopping at the market square in the city center. The market was shimmering from the variegated colors of Moroccan babushkas and various spices. There were also such a variety of different smells…

 

Morocco, thank you for the incredible hospitality, wonderful people and hundreds of unforgettable memories. I promise I will come back. Inch’Allah<3

No Comments

Leave a Comment