The Berber village – Ourika Valley, no mod cons but wonderful views
We stopped to visit a Berber house belonging to one of Driss’s cousins. The native Moroccan population is made up of Berbers and Arabs and Driss was very proud of the fact that he is a Berber, although his wife is an Arab. As soon as we entered the village we picked up a stream of little Berber followers. When we booked the trip we were warned that the children would follow us as lots of tourists bring sweets for them but sweets weren’t such a good idea where there is no dental care. I felt mean not giving them anything so I had come prepared with a big bundle of cheap ballpoint pens. The children seemed to love these and were fascinated by clicking them on and off.
By Berber standards the family was a wealthy one but it was humbling to see how meekly they lived. Home and the modern conveniences we take for granted seemed a very long way off. The house, a two-storey affair made of mud and stone, had square, unglazed windows with wood and wrought iron shutters and a plain mud floor. There was very little furniture, just stone and mud platforms draped with colourful blankets and cushions that seemed to be used for sleeping and sitting. There was an old sofa in one room and this held pride of place. The oven was a domed affair made of mud in which a fire burned with a kettle humming on top. We were served mint tea in tea glasses like those I had bought in the Marrakech souks the day before, poured with great ceremony from a silver tea pot.
The courtyard seemed to be filled with chickens, cows dogs and children and there was a water filled ditch. I guess it channelled water running down from the mountain, their only visible supply of running water. It was only after I left that I realised I hadn’t seen a TV anywhere. I guess it was hidden away in one of the rooms I didn’t go into.
Driss also took us to a tiny building where the grain is ground to make bread. It was so small we could hardly stand and the miller sat beside a stone wheel amid the dust from the flour. There was a large version of the stone oven from the Berber house where we were told the women of the village bring their bread each day to be baked. The heat was almost overwhelming and we didn’t stay too long.