The first time when I visit a new country, I want to feel its vibes. I want to enjoy the local rhythm, observe people, discover their roots and authentic life. Only when this essence is caught, I can explore the country further. To feel the original vibes of Morocco, definitely head to the rural villages.
To experience the genuine Moroccan Berber village life is not an easy task. There are so many tours offering this authentic experience, but so often is a tourist set up. Once, I’d been at the Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou where our guide promised to show an authentic, still inhabited mud house. After arriving there, we realised nobody actually lived in this house. Some local lady was sitting there just to pretend she still cooks in the ancient way.
Thus, I was very happy to receive an invitation from the berber Said. His family lives in the rural village located in the Ijoukak valley, close to the Tinmel Mosque and around 90 km away from Marrakech. The road to Said’s home was scenic. We left the hectic Marrakech early morning, drove through the beautiful and twisty High Atlas mountain road, passed the artificial Ouirgan lake, left many local villages behind. After a few hours ride, Said welcomed to his house.
Said’s family home is renovated but still authentic. By renovated, I mean that the family has a normal toilet and a hot water tank. A cosy bedroom on the second floor is rented for travellers. However, Said’s mother is still cooking everything in the wood fired clay oven. There was our giant breakfast bread prepared – the most delicious home made traditional bread I’ve ever eaten.
“My dream is to make it as a full time job,” said Said about hosting people in his house. After quitting his mountain guide career, Said now works in the nearby village called Imlil, the base for climbing Toubkal – the highest peak of Nord Afrika. However, every weekend he comes home and invites travellers from all over the world to experience the true spirit of Berber life.
After the breakfast, Said invited to discover his neighbourhood by walking down the river, passing local communities. He showed us how the locals are making olive oil, harvesting olives, introduced to the everyday rural life. Our trip continued by car to the nearby Tinmel mosque – one of the two mosques in Morocco open to non-Muslims. Tinmel mosque is a hidden gem and not very well know in Morocco. Before heading back to Said’s home, we visited another rural village, where locals make living from making pottery.
For lunch, Said’s family prepared us a generous table with the tagine, couscous and deserts. We couldn’t finish all and according to Said, it is a good sign. “If guests finish all meals, means it was not enough”, explained our amazing host.
Before we left to Marrakech, Said showed the local school. It was Sunday and all village was helping to paint and decorate the class for kids. None of the kids, as normally in the rural Morocco, asked for money, they all only wanted to greet us with their healthy red cheeks.
What I love about Said, is his warm and simple personality. His modest talks and generosity made me feel like home.
And I would like also invite you all to feel in Morocco like home.
If you want to visit Said and his family, send me a message firstname.lastname@example.org!