The first time I visit a new country, I want to feel its vibes. I want to enjoy the local rhythm, observe people, and discover their roots and authentic life. Only when this essence is caught I can explore the country further. So to feel the authentic vibes of Morocco, definitely head to the Berber village.
Thus, I was thrilled to receive an invitation from the Berber Said. His family lives in a 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, and left many local villages behind. After a few hours’ ride, Said was welcomed to his house.
Said’s family home is renovated but still authentic. By renovated, I mean that the family has a standard toilet and a hot water tank. A cosy bedroom on the second floor is rented for travellers. However, Said’s mother still cooks everything in the wood-fired clay oven. Our giant breakfast bread was prepared – the most delicious homemade traditional bread I’ve ever eaten.
“My dream is to make it 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 breakfast, Said invited us to discover his neighbourhood by walking down the river, passing local communities. He showed us how the locals make olive oil and harvest olives and introduced us to 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 known in Morocco.
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Before heading back to Said’s home, we visited another rural village, where locals make a living from making pottery.
Said’s family prepared us a generous table with the tagine, couscous and deserts for lunch. We couldn’t finish all, and according to Said, it is a good sign. “If guests finish all meals, it was not enough”, explained our amazing host.
Before we left for Marrakech, Said showed us the local school. It was Sunday, and the village was helping to paint and decorate the class for kids. None of the kids, as usual in 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 straightforward personality. His modest talks and generosity made me feel at home. And I would also like to invite you all to make Morocco feel like home.
2023 update: Said’s house and village were party destroyed after the 2023 September earthquake. While Said is rebuilding his house, he is not organising visits and local experiences.