Morocco 2017 – Skoura and Kasbah Amridil –

After spending the morning at the Ikelene Mosque in Tinghir and the stunning Todra Gorge,  we drive through some pretty stark contrasts in landscape before arriving in Skoura. We check in to the Ait Ben Moro, an 18th century kasbah that has been converted into a guest house.

The rooms are simple but elegant, with thick walls, reed and beam ceiling and stone floor that echoed the architectural elements of the mosque we had just visited.

There’s a carpet shop next door. Aziz, the hotel concierge, takes me and starts to show me carpets.  I select a small blue one. Aziz introduces me to his wife, Manar, who is the weaver.  But instead of finishing the transaction, she motions to me to join her at her loom.  

What are the odds that I would have a second chance to weave on a carpet loom in Morocco?

After about an hour of working the loom with Manar, I turn at the sound of Mark’s voice.  “It figures we would find you here.  If we’re missing Heather, we just start looking for a carpet loom.”  It’s time to go visit a nearby historical site. I make a hard choice between loom and yet another kasbah, but the kasbah wins. “I will be back to buy this carpet” I motion to Manar. (See the weaving details at August Phoenix Hats.)

We walk through fields of beans and alfalfa bordered by irrigation ditches and dotted with olive and pomegranate trees. Mohamed throws rocks at the top of a tree until he dislodges a cluster of fresh dates, which he and I knosh on with relish.  A little further on, we come to a wide dry riverbed, and beyond that, is the most remarkable building I have yet seen – the Kasbah Amridil.

This 17th century citadel is one of the most famous buildings in Morocco, even being featured on the old 50 dirham note.  Some scenes from ‘Laurence of Arabia’ were filmed here. Doug selects a guide, who starts our tour in a courtyard filled with artifacts which include an olive press, clay cook pots and lanterns, and a form used for making the rammed earth walls.

An olive oil press. Note the notch in the stone at the bottom, where the oil would run off into a bowl.
An interior room at Kasbah Amridil

We return to the Ait Ben Moro through the bean and alfalfa fields, and Doug and I go back to the carpet shop.  Aziz assists in finalizing my purchase, and then extends an invitation from Manar to join her for tea in their home.  

In a receiving room in the same style as Said’s home, a low round table is already set with tea and dried fruit. Soon the table is covered with bread, jam, honey and butter, and Manar and her mother Fatna join us.  We learn that everything we are being served, was produced on their land, and that in spite of having a modern kitchen, Fatna continues to bake bread every morning in the wood-fired oven in their back yard.  “Tastes better,” she says.

It was such an honor to be invited into this home.  The rug Manar wove made it home with me, and hangs on a wall above my bed.  I endeavor to start learning Berber so I can speak with her directly when I return to Morocco.

And now I want to buy a carpet loom…

Taking a brief break with Doug Baum, our American camel man and guide for this trip

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