THE STREETS OF EL KHORBAT
08.04.2017 - 20.04.2017 32 °C
Finally a few minutes of down time. With two days here we actually have some time to just relax. It is extremely hot so it probably best that I have squirreled away in my room for a bit.
We got up early this morning to photography the tunnels before they got too crowded. This festival is actually a week long and starts at 10 am daily so things are hopping early. Photographing the tunnels was pretty challenging from a technical perspective and I had no clue how to get set up. Darren was a great help. Since he also uses a Pentax camera, he is familiar with the settings on my camera and I learned a few quick tricks in the process. After getting some directions, we spent a couple hours just waiting for the “right” people to walk into the light and I am pretty happy with what I got for a first try. I do think I will go back in the morning for another attempt.
We did have lots of young kids watching us the entire time and we were recognized by some of the ladies from yesterday so the whole process was quite social. We met a 15-year-old girl named Aisha who was looking after her 10-month-old brother. She really wanted us to come see her home. Her older sister Fatima was also home and as is the tradition, we were offered tea. Offering tea is standard here. It has come in many forms, mint, sage, thyme and is always served with sugar. The art of pouring is beautiful. No matter where we have been, it is always the same. The tea is poured into a glass and then back in the teapot several times, assumingly to blend the sugar, and finally poured very high so the tea runs like a waterfall into the cup. I was wishing I had my camera but managed a couple shots on my phone. Again, this was not about a photo opportunity but a very special experience being welcomed into local life. And that baby Abdula was the cutest. I must mention that every home that we have been in has been spotless despite being made of mud. Even the rugs look very clean, but of course, shoes are removed before entering a room with carpet.
I did manage a shot of Aisha and Abdula when she brought me back to the tunnel to find my camera.
This afternoon I went back to the music festival mostly to relax and to enjoy the music. I do admittedly have an affinity for the Moroccan men.
At the festival people remembered us from yesterday and came by to chat. Others, surprised to see tourists mixing with the crowd would come by, as they do, and hold my hand and say, “Salam”, or kiss my cheeks or simply giggle and make the hand gesture indicated that I am pretty and most welcome. I wondered this evening why the Bette Midler song from the movie, Beaches, was stuck in my head….”human kindness is overflowing…” but upon reflection, it is obvious.
We were asked to participate in an interview with a Moroccan national television station about our experience at the festival. As it turned out it was more of a filming of us interacting with the woman’s cooperative. I did buy a giant woolen bowl that will be challenge to get home.
From there, we did a walk through the streets of the small village of El Khorbat. It is a small village that I could not even find in my Lonely Planet guide. Thankfully, the tourists are few and It feels very unspoiled. Street photography can be a challenge for the obvious reasons so you really have to engage people. Again, grateful for my French, I behaved like a royal visitor and walked up to people, took their hand and said “salam” began to chat and sometimes, just sometimes, they would let me take a picture. Other times no, but almost always, we attracted a crowd of curious locals. We were invited into at least 4 homes for tea in the one hour walk. One group of women invited me to sit on the curb and roared with laughter when I did. They loved seeing a picture of Isaac and couldn’t believe I only have one son. They proceeded to point and tell me which ladies had 4 children, 5, 8 and 14 and loved my shocked reaction. They explained it was difficult to be married and let someone take a photo but I really didn’t care because they welcomed me into their community in a genuine and unforgettable way.
I have really enjoyed my time here in El Khorbat. This fortified city that once lived divided ( Jews, Blacks, Arabs all had their own tunnels) has shown an entirely united front to me.
The village also has beautiful windows and doors.
I will be off the grid for the next day or so as we are taking camels and riding into the desert where will be sleeping. Can’t wait for that!
Note: Sometimes the internet can be very slow. I could not get any pictures to upload last night and it took hours to load the blog this time. Thing we take for granted.