Sunday, 4 March 2012

Storytelling Sunday - an English girl in Morocco

Aged 20, as part of my degree, I got the chance to join a field trip to Morocco. Amazing! We stayed in a Berber village in the High Atlas Mountains for 3 days during which I danced (badly) to traditional music, ate delicious tagines with my fingers and used the other hand to wipe my bum. A caravan of muleteers took us on a 2-hour ride up narrow mountain paths to the highest souk in North Africa. I had only ever been pony-trekking before this and the nimble mules were not built for comfort, but it was the most amazing journey. However, shortly after we set off it started to snow (apparently almost unheard of in December in this part of the world, and you can see from the picture below what the weather was like before we left) and by the time we reached the souk it was a near white-out. There was no way the muleteers were going to entrust their livelihoods to inexperienced Europeans on the treacherous return journey so we agreed to walk and they led their precious beasts. Halfway down however, as the snow turned to a blizzard, one muleteer took pity on me. He allowed me to mount the mule, covered me completely with a waterproof djellaba( long coat/cloak) and I spent the last hour of the trip blinded and shivering as he led me back down the mountain to the village. Never have an open fire and a hole-in-the-ground toilet been more welcome!.

The last two days of our trip were spent in a 2-Star hotel in Agadir, after we had walked for 3 hours to get back to civilisation because the snow-covered mountain was inpassable for the minibus which had taken us up there. Oh! The joy of a shower and clean hair! Then out into town to explore. At the time, I had long hair and I had left it loose to dry after my shower. Everywhere I went, Arab men would reach out and stroke it, which thoroughly unnerved me, but I did not feel really threatened as it was broad daylight and I was with a mixed group of friends. We wanted to shop, but we were all nervous about haggling. Stopping to examine a tempting display of beaded jewellery outside a small shop , we were ushered inside by the owner. It was lined with beautiful fabrics and kaftans. I didn't even ask the price - I was sure I couldn't afford any of the gorgeous embroidered kaftans, but the owner had seen my interest and insisted on showing me how to wear one.

 I couldn't find a photo of me wearing the kaftan I eventually bought so I will have to try to explain it to you. Remember I was with friends, not alone, and I was wearing jeans, which I didn't take off. The short Arab man, with enthusiastic gestures, tied the ribbons on a long piece of  black fabric with  gold embroidery around my bust. He then took the end and brought it down my body, fed it between my legs and showed me how to put my arms through 2 armholes at the back. I felt throughly embarrassed, and, as no price had yet been mentioned I was worrying how he would react when I couldn't afford to buy the kaftan.
'How much?' I asked again
'How much you have?'
'100 dirhams (about £5) and £10 in English money. We go home tomorrow'. I thought this would sound more convincing. Of course it was not all the money I had. I was naive, but not stupid! And I still didn't think it would be anywhere near enough.
To my great surprise, he agreed without haggling. I must have overestimated the price by some way, but it was definitely worth a lot more than £15 to me., and I was relieved to get out of there without upsetting the Moroccan shopkeeper.
I wore the kaftan to several college formal events after that, and I still have it, but I have put on too much weight for it to look good now. I am keeping it until my daughter is tall enough to wear it. I wish I had a photo to show you.

I scrapped my photos from Morroco when I first started scrapbooking, but I think I might revisit this now and do a new page with more of the story. Thanks, Sian, for encouraging me to get these old pages out. I'm off to visit some more Sunday Storytellers now. Defintely looking forward to some more School Stories from Miss Smith.

Oh, and to make it easier for you, I have turned off Blogger's pesky Word Verification once and for all. (I hope, do please let me know it that hasn't worked)

24 comments:

Amy said...

This is a fantastic adventure! I'd love to visit Morocco one day.

jennifer said...

Oh, I'd love to visit Morrocco. It sounds like you had a real adventure. I'm glad you kept the kaftan! Thanks for sharing the story :-)

Ruth said...

What an adventure and so glad to see you have scrapped it.

Jimjams said...

Oooh interesting memories - sounds like a great time! Take a picture of the kaftan fabric and tell the story with that!

Miriam said...

Exactly what I thought, take a picture of it, I would love to visit Morocco and after reading your story I'll bump it up my list of 'places to go'

Wanda said...

What an adventure that was! I'm so glad to have the opportunity to read it.

favouriteworkofart said...

Lovely lovely memories!

debs14 said...

What an amazing experience and what lovely memories you have of your visit.

Lynn said...

What a great adventure and such great memories.

Becky said...

A great story - I'm glad you've still got the kaftan! BTW how do you turn off word verification - I'm struggling to do it on my bog!

Sian said...

Wow! I absolutely love it when I discover a story which tells me something completely new about the storyteller - what a fantastic adventure. You have got my mind whirring, just thinking about it becasue I would dearly love to go there myself one day. I've been to Tunisia and adored it - Morocco is next on my list. I love the story and the pictures for this one. Great suff Kirsty

Julie J said...

That sounds quite an adventure. It makes me think how many stories I have to scrap before I forget.

furrypig said...

A great adventure Kirsty, would love to visit Morocco sometime.

Gwen Ward said...

What an amazing adventure Kirsty. I would love to visit Morocco one day.

Sabrina S. said...

Thanks for sharing this great adventure!
Cheers from France

Ginger said...

I enjoyed your story! I would have been so afraid coming down that path!

Carrie Rosalind said...

How fun! What a great adventure for you at 20 - I think I would like to visit Morocco now after seeing your pictures! :)

heart.hearth.home. said...

What an amazing journey and so well told. Definitely worth re-scrapping using your glorious photographs.

S said...

It was great to hear the ups and downs of your adventure - I hope to see a new page scrapped with all the story told - and a picture of that kaftan.

Mel said...

I think scrapbooking and travelling go hand in hand as it gives you a chancce to reminise about all your travels! I'd love to go to Morrocco too!

Melissa said...

Sounds like it was quite a trip - so glad you've recorded these memories!

(I turned off that pesky Blogger stuff too!)

Jo said...

Wow, it sounds like you had an amazing trip, it's a shame you don't have a picture but at least you have the memory

Amy said...

One word- jealous. Thank you so much for sharing and letting me travel vicariously through your stories!

Chipper said...

I went to Morocco when I was 15, although I had a completely different adventure to you. Alas, I don't have any photos as every roll was wiped by an x-ray machine and when I developed them upon my return they were all blank :-(
It is a lovely place. I am so glad you have some photos to remember it by.