Ait Benhaddou Morocco and a bit about broken dreams
Right behind our hotel in the Palmarie at the edge of Skoura, is one of the most famous Adobe Ksour, which is featured on the fifty Dirham bill.
It was an impressive adobe structure, in rich red ochre tones.
Kids from the villages all over the Palmarie, run over to our car, asking for money, or at least for a “Bonbon”.
I made a mental note to buy some candy that I could give some kids in the future…. Village kids are begging everywhere in Morocco….. And although it is NOT recommended to give them money, since it may encourage them to take up begging as a way of life as they grow up, it is still sad to see them go empty handed because we had no candy to give them.
In Cambodia, India and other parts of the world, we did give kids some candy, pens soaps, toothbrushes and school supplies, as well as small toys like balloons and bubble blowers.
The road West towards Ouarzazate, was lined with small dusty adobe villages.
We took a detour into an elegant golf complex, to check a hotel that we wanted to stay at the night before, but were too tired to make the drive there.
It was situated in a royal golf community, that had big ambitions to become a major tourist attraction.
They intended to build there casinos, in addition to a beautiful golf-course that was never completed.
They created a big and lovely lake and sold land around it to private owners, who built their impressive mansions, done in many variations of the Sahara Adobe Ksar Architecture.
Many of the majestic mansions stood empty, with their windows broken…
Others were in various degrees of completion, where the owners declared it a bad investment to continue the construction… While other small castles were beautifully built with manicured and well kept gardens.
We heard that new money may be coming into the region, and that people are willing to build luxury vacation homes in the area again.
It felt strange to see this project of “broken dreams”…..
We all know and even have had dreams that we did not carry to completion, but it felt very strange to see the metaphor, manifested in a physical form….right before our eyes….
The road leading there was nicely paved, but it was rapidly deteriorating at the edges…
The low streets lights that were strangely designed to be at ground level, were all broken and busted.
The edges of the lake look murky, but still we saw grand houses there, which people live in.
Maybe it was not a community of broken dreams…. Just a project that was still in process, and needed some modification…..
A complex of casinos is NOT a good idea to build there.
For some reason everyone wants to copy the concept of Las Vegas… A center of casinos in the middle of the desert, where people come to gamble and play.
But who knows….. Maybe those who gave up on this dream will transfer ownership to new people who will carry it through…
During the course of history, whole communities, even whole cities, were abandoned for various reasons, leaving behind standing monuments to how transitory the human dream process is.
Here in Morocco we have often come upon abandoned adobe villages that deteriorated beyond repair.
In fact, we were heading to see a famous one in Ait Benhaddou, just outside of the town of Ouarzazate.
It is an amazing adobe Ksar, with lanes and houses, a Mosque and a Medrassa, yet it was abandoned, and the people moved across to the river, because it was easier to find fresh drinking water there.
Another reason that they abandoned and moved, was that during the winter months, the usually dry river bed would fill with salty waters two meter high.
Before Unesco declared it a World Heritage Site and built a bridge there, the locals had no bridge to connect them to the main road leading in and out of the valley.
Ait Benhaddou is now a beautiful tourist attraction.
We hired Ahmed to take us on a hike of this beautiful Ksar.
He pointed out the buildings, and took us to the top where the panoramic views into the landscape was unparalleled.
Ahmed did not climb the steps to the top part.
He sat down and waited for us, huffing and puffing from a lifetime of smoking….. After all, he told us…….he was an OLD man of forty five….
On our way out of this lovely abandoned Ksar which was featured in a few Hollywood movies, I bought from one of the vendors a blue Indigo Sahara scarf.
The Blue men were tribe of fierce Saharan men who wore these blue scarves over their heads.
This nomadic tribe had settled into permanent housing around the area, and disintegrated as a tribe.
Ahmed got a phone call and he pulled out of his Jellaba’s pocket a smart phone.
It never ceases to amaze me when I see how in remote poor areas, technology is embraced so widely, as well as sports, but nothing of the modern world’s ethics, values or progressive thought is filtering in….
Ahmed said that a group of people were waiting for him to guide them.
We paid him, thanked him and sent him on his way.
He ran along to meet the next group of people, his plastic sandals flopping on the path.
By sunset the top of Ait Benhaddou was filled with tourists who came to view the sunset.
The mountains they stood upon were bathed in golden light.
We found a hotel on the internet, that seemed very comfortable.
I was yearning for a good bed, and a hot shower at a restful place.
My congestion has increased now and it seems as if my nose is running all the time.
After driving the wrong way following the address on the Internet and a hard-to-understand phone call to the hotel, we doubled back into Ait Benhaddou, and drove north past it and found our hotel.
Situated two kilometers from Ait Benhaddou, the Hotel Ksar Inghda offered everything we wanted.
Beside a large soft bed (most beds in Morocco are as hard as a rock) with great sheets, they had a hot Hamman, a jacuzzi, and their restaurant that was voted one of the best in Morocco.
We spent some time in the Jacuzzi and then we got the Hammam treatment.
The Hammam was built like a small sauna, with a place to lay down and get scrubbed by the attending lady.
It felt a bit strange…. A bit like taking my car into service and carwash……. when she lifted my breasts and scrubbed underneath them….
She did a great job soaping my body with the pasty soap made of olives, and then rinsed me with buckets of hot water.
I left feeling like a kid who was being washed by her mother…. Which is the last time I remember someone ELSE scrubbing under my arms so well…
We ate dinner at their lovely restaurant, while a group of musicians were drumming outside.
The food was good and the dessert of chocolate fondant cake, was heavenly.
We plan to stay in this Oasis for another night.
I hope to lazy around, rest and get over this fucking flu…